REFLECTION: Reality and reality shows PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:42

TV, at the moment, is teeming with what are known as reality shows. We have to know more about this phenomenon, the better for us to appreciate them and to be forewarned about their possible adverse side-effects.

I suppose that by now we all know that products come to us with both good and bad effects. The reality shows are no exception. In fact, they are the typical modern products that carry this trait of the double-effect.

So we have to learn to be very discerning. And that means we have to upgrade our discerning capabilities, such that while we widen our perspectives and try to be open and tolerant to different things, we should also be clear about what is right and wrong, what is good and bad.

Otherwise, we would slide into what is known as relativism, a worldview that removes the absolute and universal guiding elements in life, and then to confusion and anarchy.
This is how the Wikipedia describes reality shows: they ‘present purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, document actual events, and usually feature ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded.

“They cover a wide range of programming formats, from game or quiz shows which resemble the frantic, often demeaning shows, to projects focusing on surveillance or voyeurism.
“They portray a modified form of reality, utilizing sensationalism to attract viewers and so generate advertising profits. Participants are often placed in exotic locations or abnormal situations, and are sometimes coached to act in some way by off-screen directors to create an illusion of reality.”

Obviously, these shows are a phase in the ongoing search on the part of the media for novelty and creativity as well as profitability and survival. In themselves, they are not bad. In fact, they are good. Except that certain elements can spoil them.

This is where we have to be most careful about. We have to find ways of how to effectively regulate the terrain of novelty and creativity without compromising their objective values. It’s a very tricky terrain that reflects the complexity of how our sense of freedom, rights and arts is understood, developed and lived.

Hopefully the enormous challenge would awaken in those involved the idea that they need a deeper motive and a clearer sense of purpose in undertaking these projects. They simply have to go beyond the profit motive and to be unduly dominated by the ratings mentality.

This means that they just cannot remain in the level of gimmickry and of adolescent antics. Their shows should contribute to a better understanding of reality, of humanity, of religion and of God, since in the end reality can not be reality unless God is acknowledged to be always in the middle of it.

This is certainly a tall order. But unless we realize this, I believe that these reality shows won’t go far, won’t fly high. They can likely attract some attention and patronage, but these will not last.
Worse, they for sure will inflict some hidden damage on people and spread sweet poison around, for without God, all we are capable of doing is only evil. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keeps the city, he watches in vain that keeps it.” (Ps 127,1)

Of course, this doctrine of our Christian faith now needs to be spread and accepted more widely. At the moment, we are faced with a world culture that is increasingly secularized, where God is ignored, avoided and even ridiculed. Let’s hope this truth is given more airing not only in the churches but also in the media.

This whole issue of reality and reality shows should surface the need for everyone to be concerned about how to keep ourselves in reality. We need to realize that reality is not just a passive phenomenon, totally given to us.

It is something that, given our nature, needs to be received, understood and lived properly. In our case as men and as persons, reality has both objective and subjective dimensions that need to be integrated properly by us in accordance to an objective law that comes from God, the creator.

Our problem nowadays is when we start thinking that reality is simply what we make out of it, completely subjective and dependent on changing and relative factors like culture and socio-economic and political conditions.
The problem we have is when we start thinking reality has no absolute, universal and permanent foundation.