Reality Television is King since the writer’s strike has deprived us of our fix of sit-coms and drama this season. All the reality shows; such as: Smarter than a 5th Grader, Deal or No-deal, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and a host of others; have flooded the cable and airwaves in a rush to fill the void.
As I sat there this week watching the Biggest Loser I began to think about what I was ingesting, no, I don’t mean foodstuffs, but thoughts and ideas. What are the bait, hook and tackle?
One only has to look around at the average waistline and you can see how our lives of ease and/or materialism-induced-stress have weighed on us. Daily you can find articles, self-help programs and a mountain of books trying to get their collective arms around the problem of obesity. In fact we have spent so much time gathering this information that we have had little time for anything else, especially such trivial things as exercise, play, and the like. At some point one has to conclude it is time to stop thinking about it and do something about it. (I haven’t reached this radical point, yet.)
So here is the positive premise, if we see people engaged and succeeding in the attempt it will motivate others to get up off their lazy keesters and do likewise. So… someone put it on television for the masses to see and hopefully emulate. This is a good thing.
The negative premise is that now that it is on television our voyeuristic natures kick in and we watch others play the game instead of engaging in it ourselves. We’ll just sit here and watch how it’s done. This is not so good.
Always hidden in the bait is a hook and this is no different. The hook is the game, who will go who will stay. How do they accomplish this? Ah, here is where psychology sets the hook, “challenges and temptations!” It would truly be a boring show if all it was, was watching rollie-pollies sweat and work out (no matter how much the trainers rant and rave). One can stand to watch only so much flabby jiggling and man boobs. Therefore, there has to be some other angle, the hook is: game-play during temptations and challenges.
The manipulations, the deceptions, the intrigue; and that’s just the commercials. Raw human nature is front and center in the reality show. Wrath, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, and pride are the stars, with the players as supporting cast. Being the voyeurs we are, we enjoy watching it in others as they stumble and fall below the yellow line. (Yes, it is a cynical view but I believe an accurate one. It’s like NASCAR, the reason a huge percentage watch is to see a wreck.) In short it’s addictive
All this leaves us with the final two ingredients, the weigh-in and the elimination room. Who will be the biggest loser this week? Which team will have the greatest percentage weight loss? Who will be exempt, who will go home? Ooooo, I get tingly just thinking about it. Here is the payoff for watching the sweating and the puking and the jiggling: someone is going home. Who will it be?
In summary I have to say that I find these reality shows entertaining on the surface but since my mind is warped and wired differently I find these same shows somewhat disturbing. I realize it is a game, but it seems to reinforce the idea of situational ethics. The, “I am going to do what it takes to make sure I come out the winner,” the Zen of (Donald) Trump if you will. That may be understood to be the “American Way” but it is far from the Biblical Way.
These shows are the very antithesis of Biblical Christianity. They promote greed, the Bible says to give; they bank on covetousness, the Bible condemns it; they manipulate and lie to get to the next level, the Scriptures tell us to sacrifice self and put others ahead of ourselves. Even the Golden Rule has changed from, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” to “do unto others before they do unto you.” Each week millions tune in to get their weeks fix of existentialistic materialism and we never see that it is not only our waists that are getting thicker. Think about it.
Well, just thought I’d weigh in on the matter.