Initially when I started writing this entry, I had just put the title in at the top of the screen, when the phone rang. In order to try and keep track of what the hell I was thinking at the time, I then added the words, ‘it’s ‘orrid’ to the top of my screen, and scampered off to answer the phone. By the time I got back to the keyboard, things had moved on and I no longer had time to write the entry, leaving only the title and these two words on my screen as a heart-felt reminder of what exactly it was I wanted to say.
And it’s not something I really watch, but sometimes you’re in the LX crew room before a show, and the TV is on, and this hypnotising – and it is utterly hypnotising – terrifying images appear, and you just can’t look away. People desperate for fame and glory, for prestige and acclaim, lining up to be shot down, it has a sort of car crash fascination.
“I feel so much better watching it,” explained one of the lampies in the crew room, “Because it makes me realise that my life isn’t this shit.”
Sure, your life isn’t shit, but this just isn’t shit, it’s actually rather sad. We sit there and laugh as people who perhaps genuinely believe they can sing, or dance, or have some great, unique talent worthy of being seen by an audience of 100,000 to 10,000,000,000 gawping strangers, fail. We sit and dismiss the appalling inadequecies of X-Factor wannabes, we scoff at people who think they’re the best on dance and music shows. We despise, with sometimes quite frightening passions, the inmates of Big Brother who seem, for the most part, to be picked for their desperately over-blown self-confidence and character traits designed to clash with their fellows. After all, the very point of reality TV isn’t to show us how life is… it’s to make a great bit of drama, out of real lives. And sure, once in a while, someone will come along with a genuine talent, or a very pleasant personality, and everyone will love them, but that’s just not good TV. A heart-swelling tale of success and brilliance is only heart-swelling if it’s achieved against adversity, and so even the people on our screen who we want to like, will be prodded, poked, pushed, examined and torn apart in often savage and occasionally repulsive ways, before being granted that most elusive of golden trophies – celebrity achieved for being themselves. Because let’s face it, that’s something else which is implied in reality TV; that through the simple act of being who you are, you can convince the watching world, thousands of strangers, to like, admire and possibly even love you.
It’s a great temptation, something we all secretly yearn for; to be loved unconditionally just for ourselves. But reality TV doesn’t exist to fulfil this. It’s not painting a picture of the real world, it’s not a voice for real people, it’s not a tool for social commentary – it is an entirely constructed drama, full of bile and mockery, but unlike most dramas, the victims in its tales, are real, and that’s what makes it both so fascinating, and so horrid.