Our culture is obsessed with reality TV. We’ve gone from teen heartthrob sing-along fests to people wandering naked in the wilderness in a decade of millennial style “entertainment.”
But what happens when reality TV suddenly becomes very real? What do we do when someone like the Duggars are revealed to have experienced a major failure as a family? When Real Housewives commit fraud? When Prince-Not-Quite-Charming doesn’t marry the girl?
We accept being entertained by adultery, gang violence, molestation and murder when it’s on the big screen – “That was such a good movie! I mean, it has a couple bad parts, but wow! Otherwise, it was great!” And on we go with our lives.
Reality TV forces us to deal with something movies don’t. Real life. When real life characters fail, the public reaction is vast and varied in both opinion and outrage.
The reaction by the networks who air these shows is also varied, often hypocritical. TLC has pulled ’19 Kids and Counting’ due to the Josh Duggar scandal. They yanked ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ when Mama June was learned to have dated a child molester. TLC’s ‘Cheer Perfection’ was cancelled when the network learned a mother featured on the show received multiple prison sentences for sexual encounters with a 13 year old boy.
To be truly consistent, should TLC consider removing the following programs from its lineup, as well?
- Cake Boss – Remigio “Remy” Gonzalez, brother-in-law of the show’s star Buddy Valastro, was sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in New Jersey. The show has been renewed for at least 2 seasons.
- Sister Wives – can you say polygamy? Yet, the program continues.
Discovery Channel’s Sons of Guns was cancelled when star Will Hayden was arrested for aggravated rape of his own daughter. Another, older daughter and former costar Stephanie Ford claimed her father had molested her when she was younger, as well.
On TBS, Cee Lo Green’s The Good Life wasn’t canceled immediately after rape allegations, but when he drew heat for his “definition of rape” Twitter comments, TBS removed the show from its network.
Zoey 101 was canceled two weeks after 16-year-old star Jamie Lynn-Spears revealed she was pregnant. Buckwild was cancelled for multiple reasons, one of which was cast members Shae Bradley and Jesse J creating a graphic sex tape.
Movies and TV shows are dominated by sex of every variety. Yet somehow, we’re continually shocked when the actions we see in the surreal creep over into the real. Yes, reality TV has a sex problem. But from the morally wrong to the disgustingly criminal, the scandals of reality TV mirror the “entertainment” we allow on sitcoms and in movie theaters every day.
And no, this isn’t a call to blame Hollywood for our actions. This is a call to personal responsibility.
Let’s hold our reality stars to high standards. Cancel shows that need to be cancelled. Let’s hold ourselves to the same standards. If we won’t watch it on reality TV, maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t watch it at all.
by Krystal Heath, follow her on Twitter