Last week, there were outcries that reached almost scandalous
proportions as a presidential press conference bumped “American
Idol” from its Wednesday night spot. Apparently the fate of some
low-grade karaoke singers is of more concern than the words of the
nation’s leader. A new epidemic of reality television junkies has
hit the streets, and the products used to fuel these needs will
rise to ridiculous proportions in the near future.
It is obvious that there is something wrong with television when
people are signing up to one day look like Britney Spears on MTV’s
“I Want a Celebrity Face.” Appearance-related television shows are
storming the charts, causing people to undermine their true beauty
and trade it in for hunks of plastic. If shows like “The Swan”
don’t concern you, there is a whole possibility of upcoming shows
that just might make you consider the moral implications and
ridiculous proportions of reality television.
According to an article found in The Boston Globe, CBS has plans
for creating a reality show that attempts to recover abducted
children. Entitled “Recovery,” the show takes “viewers along on an
emotional and life-changing ride, from the abduction to the search
in all its intensity to the reunion of child and parents.” The show
will involve former law enforcement and military personnel as they
attempt to find these missing children.
Whoever decided that this would be a good idea for a television
show should consider serious psychological evaluations. This is a
clear case of exploitation, using children in horrible situations
to gain market share and profits. Exploitation of children and the
horrors they endure are never entertainment, and should not be
broadcast in the company of “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “CSI:
Miami,” or ever for that matter. The results of such a television
show go far beyond the obvious moral implications. Critics of
“Recovery” fear that the show will undermine the necessity for
legal authorities to be involved in child abduction cases. In
addition, there is a fear that kidnappers may try to use the show
as a publicity outlet, attempting to outsmart the television
Another equally disturbing reality show possibility can be found
in the United States Patent & Trademark Office. An application
created in July of 2002 shows a premise that would pit couples
against each other in order to compete for the ultimate prize – a
baby! This reality show would allow viewers to observe the couples
and vote for the best parents to receive custody of a child. While
no station has taken claim to this, it is just foretelling of the
absurd and ridiculous television shows to come. Apparently, even
something as sacred and emotional as adoption can be molded into a
game and sold off for profit.
As the shows continue to worsen, the question becomes “Is there
an end to reality television?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. As
long as viewers have a perverse desire to peer into the misfortunes
of others, reality television will continue to prosper. With this
question answered, the next question is “Where will the line be
drawn?” And to this there is no answer. With each “shocking” new
idea (child abductions for entertainment?), the public becomes
desensitized and the bar is raised on the shock factor. As
broadcasters continue to strive to be the best in their respective
markets, who knows the boundaries they will cross along the way.
Apparently exploiting children, a red flag for most people, has not
concerned CBS, and thus the moral boundary war continues.
The only way to stop such a phenomenon is to turn off the
television and stop watching. However, reality TV has become an
addiction in American society, and taking away programming is like
taking away morning coffee from a Fortune 500 CEO -not a good idea.
Consider this article as a warning of what’s to come, and when the
adoption game show comes on television, don’t watch. Given the
option, I would rather see you turn back to American Idol.
Stacey is a senior studying marketing. Her column runs every