Are TV Reality Shows Fixed?


The cameraman zooms in to a scruffy looking face, beads of sweat glimmering in the hot, humid sun, while the expression of anxiety and terror is sent to hundreds if not thousands of receivers located in the comfort of our own living rooms. All who are watching share in the televised horror of being lost on a tropical island somewhere in the Pacific. I would even go as far as saying the expression that is shown on the small screen may be in all reality the same manifestation of the viewer as he or she watches in anticipation of what comes next.

Has it occurred to anyone watching that if this particular individual is really lost, the entire camera crew, staff, and all those who provide logistical support (such as food, clothes, shelter, not to mention medical supplies for those who trip over electrical cables and skin up their knees) are also misplaced? If the star of the show is pulling on the heart strings of the viewer and having them wonder if he will ever be found, how is it that the entire production crew has located the so called lost soul?

The question poised is, Are Reality Shows Fixed? The answer is yes. The best actors or actresses on earth are not the ones who portray historical characters to an on the spot match, or have you love to hate the character which they portray (like Nurse Ratchet), but rather those who have the ability to draw you into the story or brag-a-mony that you are listening to or watching. We all get pulled into the mesmerizing narrative and we forget about the reality that surrounds the tale. The better the tantalizing one can be in expressing himself, the better he is in holding the attention of the hearer. The World War II pilot who tells of his frightening exploits as his plane was being shot down from underneath him, with anti aircraft fire exploding all around, finds himself parachuting down with shell fragments filling the sky. Meanwhile, all those who are listening are asking themselves, “Did he make it?” They momentarily forgot the reality that he is standing right there in front of them.

The so-called realty shows are no different. They are created to be attention-grabbing media to pull the viewer into watching that particular show for ratings sake. It is not a question of what is actually real, but rather how many viewers can they captivate to keep on watching the performance? Barnum and Bailey always said there is a sucker born every minute and today’s reality shows represent the new circus that is in town. The truth of the reality show is not in what is being portrayed, but rather in holding your interest long enough to set the station’s ratings at such a level as to bring in increased revenue from advertisers who want you to purchase their wares, and to keep you coming back for more unreality to ensure even greater ratings.

Are reality shows fixed? The concept of placing people in precarious situations (at least to the viewer) is no different than a fictional character in a suspense novel perched on a rock ledge on top of a mountain peak and left there to die until the next chapter where we find our hero rescued. Or the next movie thriller where a little girl finds herself perilously placed on an outside window ledge, 24 flights up on one of New York’s sky scrapers, as in “Adventures in Babysitting”. Is there anyone who believes that little girl was really so high up and on the outside of the building or was it just visual effects?

Movie actors themselves have stand-in doubles for those – shall I say – more tricky shots, so that the actor or moneymaker does not get himself hurt. Reality shows and their actors, at least the money making ones, are not going to be placed in compromising situations so that it would hinder the income from advertisers placing their commercials on a widely watched TV show. Reality shows were created to keep the viewer – that would be you – interested enough to keep watching, and then, through word of mouth, get others to watch, thereby increasing the Nielsen Ratings, at which point the station owner can charge more for advertisers to place their advertisements on that particular station.

The issue is not what the reality show is all about but why. Every reality show on TV has evolved into something bigger, greater, more extravagant – “the next big thing”. What can I (that is, the TV Station) now do to keep my viewers’ undivided attention? As the viewers get bored, the addiction to more dangerous, hazardous, and perilous circumstances surfaces and comes to light. And as producers find those who really don’t mind placing themselves into these vicarious situations, do you think that life and limb is truly in peril? Reality shows are at best at surface level entertainment. But the real reason for this entertainment is for you, the viewer, to be separated from your money by being bombarded by all types of advertisements so that you go out and purchase these items whether you need them or not.

Are reality shows fixed? Yes. Not only are the situations staged to a point (if not all the way), but fixed on keeping the need for talk, discussions, debates, gossip, and judging flowing from one back yard and over the fence to another. Word of mouth is always the best way to advertise and the television industry is no exception. In fact it relies heavily on word of mouth to accomplish its end goal – higher ratings. But what is dangerous is the viewer’s fixation, not only on the realty show itself, but on the frantic anticipation of being able to tell his or her neighbor all about it, in both positive and negative commentary. With tongues wagging, the fires of personal opinion are then flamed and talk continues while ratings rise. But when the inferno dies down to just glowing embers, the need of having the next fix to talk increases. The reality show viewer is now hooked. He must inject himself by watching the next show so he can wave his tongue once again. Have reality shows replaced simple entertainment with more extravagant viewing to keep the people talking, which in turn keeps the people watching, which in turn keeps the people talking and so on and so forth?

Are reality shows fixed? Yes. Are certain participants foreknown in the producer’s mind to win or are the choices fair and above ground? Numbers certainly do not lie, but you can lie with the numbers. Public opinion may not always be right, but give the public what it wants. Rational thought, morals, and relational concepts normally do not keep the reality show in high standing, but rather what the viewers require. On the dating scene, the bachelor may indeed have the previous three factors in mind while dating a particular female competitor. However, the public does not agree with his decision. Viewers who do not tune in cause the ratings to go down. So a switch of females is made and the story is changed with much to talk about. The word gets out and the viewers return and the show is not only a hit but fixed as well.

Are reality shows fixed? Yes. Fixed in a system of degradation and humiliation. Those in power over the media must ask themselves the following questions. What is the next big thing going to be? As the public fixation grows stronger, what will the TV producers concoct to feed the growing mass? And in the next reality show, are people going to be hurt for real both physically and mentally or will it all be fixed?

Source by LP Steuer

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