Thursday, August 30, 2012

Is Reality Television Real?

I love reality television.  I can’t get enough of Gordon Ramsey, the Amazing Race, and even Jersey Shore (I know, I know—most are probably thankful it’s ending).  Of all the shows though, my two favorites have to be Survivor and Big Brother.  What interests me the most about those two shows is the social interaction and aspect of each game.

You can’t go into them thinking you’ll just be ruthless, seize all the power, win all the challenges, etc.  The mean, aggressive players are some of the first to be voted out.  Just look at the Hantz clan and all of their follies.  I can’t even imagine some of the holding down jobs with their anger issues let alone winning a social game.  You may win every challenge or be conniving and deceitful, but in the end, when the people that have voted you out now have to pick a winner, you're out of luck.

You also can’t be weird or annoying.  Look at all of the odd castaways on Survivor that have gone home: “federal agent” Phillip, Coach, Tarzan from last season.  One of my favorite weirdos was the Hispanic dude from Cook Islands, Billy Garcia, who was a tad lazy around camp, never seemed to quite fit in, and who awkwardly thought he shared a love connection with Candice, even though she simply replied “we love you” to his charge of not being well-liked by the rest of the castaways.  He just seemed so out-of-place socially in the game, and his perceived, one-way romance was the icing on the cake.

Last night’s Big Brother gave me new-found respect for Dan.  If you don’t follow the show, skip on to the next paragraph, but basically Dan, knowing he was going home, devised a plan to stage his “Big Brother funeral”, rat out all of his former alliance members, join the Head of Household, Frank, in a new alliance, and get Jenn with her Power of Veto to pull him off the block.  And it worked.  He even accused his closest ally, Danielle, of heinous misdeeds, sending her into a bawling emotional fit, only then to tell her that it was all his master plan to get sympathy votes for her.  Jenn pulled Dan off the block, put up Brittany (who I had been rooting for the entire season), and Dan pretty much guaranteed himself a spot in the final two.  From going home this week to potentially winning, THAT was impressive.

I realize that most of the crap on reality television isn’t real.  Most of it is scripted.  Most of it is filmed in a way to make it seem real.  For example, the last episode of Hotel Hell saw an executive chef fainting when being eviscerated by Gordon Ramsey.  The entire episode was rather blasé, and I just pictured the production gang all sitting around thinking of some way to liven it up.  Well, a fainting executive chef would work.  Yeah, let’s do that!

But if Dan’s deviance, Danielle’s horror and subsequent crying fit, and even the Hantz’s aggression is all acting, those people deserve some Emmys.  I don’t believe any of that stuff is made up.  And that’s what I love about reality TV.  Real, solid, social interaction that is shocking in the displays of intelligence and emotion.  You can’t win those games by being a nice guy all the way through.  You can’t be shy.  You can’t be overly outgoing.  You can’t be a floater, sitting around hoping the target isn’t on your back.  You can’t be naïve.  Yet you can’t be paranoid.

Now read those last six sentences over.  They apply to real life, don’t they?  Think about it.  You’ll never succeed in the real world being the nice guy all the time.  After all, nice guys finish last, don’t they?  Someone will always stab you in the back, steal your work, discredit you, etc.  Sad, but true.  And shy people are considered introverts, socially awkward, and naturally the people that make all the money and have all the fame and/or power are not like that.  No politician has a fear of public speaking, you know?

Yet people that are the opposite, overly outgoing, tend to be annoying.  Like people who stomp their feet when they walk.  Pay attention to the people who annoy you and watch if they stomp their feet.  A friend a while back once inferred that people who stomp their feet as they walk do so because they are trying to attract the attention of others and/or are very insecure, loud, obnoxious people.  I hadn’t really given it much thought until I began witnessing the phenomenon myself.  Two annoyingly in-your-face coworkers, sure enough, stomped their feet everywhere they went, and the one was a 90 lb woman!

And if you sit around and do nothing all your life, it is going to pass you right on by.  Even if you have no desire whatsoever to leave a mark in the world, at least have fun while you are here.  I mean, that’s half the reason America has an obesity epidemic—because too many people are sitting around doing nothing.  Sometimes it's OK to shine.  It shows people that you are still trying hard to do whatever it is you are tasked to do.

As for those who are naïve, this relates a little to my last post.  Naivety is great if you are a Shaolin monk.  It’s not if you live in a place like America.  If you try live in a little box or cave, sheltered from the world, choosing to ignore the news and everything happening around you, you may find yourself in trouble someday.  Like when the zombie Apocalypse occurs, and you have no idea that your neighbors are walking corpses.  But likewise, you can’t go through life being paranoid.  Like my late grandmother who wouldn’t step foot onto her front porch without doing her hair for fear of her neighbors seeing her that way.  Not a healthy way to live your life at all.

We can learn a lot from reality television.  We can learn a lot from plenty of other things as well.  All we have to do is just open our eyes and observe.  Put ourselves in the shoes of others, go for a walk, and then look again.  The world is a beautiful place when you open your eyes and actually see it.

And as for reality TV or even real-life social strategies, I’m not the one to judge or tell you how to live your life.  But if you find yourself in one of those categories I mentioned above, and if you’re unhappy with yourself, maybe a good dose of reality TV will show you how to fix it.

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