We’ve seen two extreme examples of reality programming go awry in the past few weeks. In one, a San Francisco radio station held a promotion offering a Ninendo Wii to the person who could drink the most water and wait the longest before having to relieve him/herself (Hold your Wee for a Wii). Sadly, a woman died as a direct result of the stunt.
In London, a top reality show has caused an international stir and strained relations because of the portrayal and treatment of an Indian woman on the program.
In the radio station case, three morning disc jockeys and a raft of other staff members involved in the ill-conceived promotion were sacked. In London, the events are still playing themselves out, but top politicians in India have said the show has ‘strained relations’ between their country and Britain. With all the uncertainty in the world, who needs TV to further fan the flames?
Both programs reflect poorly on the producers and the networks. But, in their defense, aren’t they just following popular trends and pushing the envelope ever further? Aren’t viewers flocking to shock shows that elevate outrage to the next level?
And, aren’t advertisers pouring their money into sponsoring such fare?
So, who should be held accountable for allowing this sordid stuff on the air in the first place? The individuals who came up with the original programming/idea? The networks? Advertisers? The FCC? Or, is this all about looking in the mirror and, quoting the Bard of Avon, admitting that, "the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves."
Whatever the cause, the effect is scary. With more and more reality programs popping up, I’m afraid we’ll only be seeing more and more examples of bigotry, boorish behavior, inexcusable stunts and, sadly, fatalities. Taking a big picture view, such fare also goes a long way towards reinforcing radical Islam’s views of our "decadent" society. It’s time for someone or some institution to put down the remote control, step up to the podium and say enough is enough.