Realism in Modern Society?
I’m going to warn you up front, this is probably going to turn into a rant. (I’m just in that sort of mood. LoL) This is my two cents, I’m not looking for a fight or argument with anyone. I’m just voicing my opinion. ;)
I’m a big fan of reality TV. I absolutely love Ghost Hunters, The Gator Boys, Finding Bigfoot, American Pickers, American Restoration, and Pawn Stars. (There’s a few more, but that gives you an idea.) Now I don’t watch these shows all the time. (Except for Finding Bigfoot and Gator Boys at the moment.) But I do enjoy them frequently.
Television programming has transformed into a virtual cornucopia of ‘real’ life shows. Some of it is fantastic. Some of it...well let’s just say I really hope many of the popular reality shows are contrived and people don’t actually behave that way. Which brings me to my original topic. Realism in Modern Society.
I write fiction. I LOVE writing fiction. However, I do believe that Hollywood and I agree on one thing: Within the fiction, you need a little realism. It helps to ground the piece and lends credibility. Here’s what we disagree on: An audience would rather see a ‘normal’ person go through a tumultuous event and come out on top (for the most part) than to see said person at his worst doing deplorable things. ‘They’ seem to believe (at least TV programmers) we would rather watch cat fights, screaming fits from ridiculously spoiled young people, and random acts of violence.
I realize I don’t speak for everyone on the planet. (Thank goodness!) I know my teenagers enjoy many of the shows that turn me off. But therein lies the problem. The key word in that sentence is MY teenagers. Now I’m not going to get into that whole “if you don’t like it, control what your children watch” thing. I do agree with that. However, I also know that many many families have two working parents, parents taking night classes, and so on. I am also not advocating censorship. Not in the slightest.
Here’s my issue: If the main audience for these shows is comprised of teens and young adults, as a Mother and Grandmother, I feel the entertainment industry has an obligation to put its money where its mouth is. If you are billing something as a ‘reality’ show, then for Pete’s sake, make sure it’s real. There is no doubt in my mind that much of the so-called drama that occurs within these shows is contrived at best. (How do I know?) Because I actually live in the real world. (I do, I promise! Lol) Many of the behaviors they so love to flaunt would have them in jail, rehab, expelled from school, etc....
Or how about this? Last night I watched a show about young children and their mothers. I was horrified!!!! Absolutely horrified!!!!! (I doubt even all of those exclamation points actually express how upset I was.) Let me tell you something, and I’m being brutally honest here, I am a pacifist. I believe violence should always be your very last resort. Our brains took us to the top of the food chain. Not our muscles. However, if an instance occurred with my own children, as portrayed on that particular show, I would knock that woman out and happily be carted off to jail for battery. (And I think I might actually get away with it. Some things are justified in certain circumstances.)
Where did Hollywood get it wrong? On any given day, television shows sport girls having cat fights over makeup and boyfriends. We can watch millionaire’s children rampage over perceived slights and exotic birthday presents they wanted, but didn’t receive. We can view numerous situations where people are at their absolute worst. I watch what I want, and leave the rest to those who enjoy that sort of thing. However, if you are a parent...would you seriously allow someone to berate your child to the point of tears on the grounds that it will make them a better athlete, cheerleader, whatever? I’m not talking about teaching and constructive criticism. You can’t grow and learn if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. And learning to take criticism is vital to becoming successful in every field. I am talking about blatant, outright verbal (and sometimes even physical) abuse.
Now I’m not wealthy. Not even close. So I can’t claim to know the inner workings of the minds of the rich and famous. I’ll tell you what I do know. Moms. Boy howdy do I know moms. And ANY mother worth her salt, wouldn’t allow anyone to mistreat her children. I don’t personally know one mother who would agree with that behavior. (And I hope I NEVER meet one!)
So reality? Is it? Whose reality? If it’s supposed to be real, then make it so. If it’s supposed to be drama based on reality, then advertise it as such. I’m not entirely certain the television industry has slightest clue what’s real and what’s fiction. I’m not talking about moral obligation here, I’m talking about outright lying...and trying to convince society that this is the way the world behaves.
And that’s my two cents. Take it or leave it. LOL