It’s interesting that the conflictions of society are the real events of the day. Reality is playing out right in front of our eyes. What America thinks is reality these days is not really reality, but entertainment. This new entertainment genre is the dominant genre on television.
We love to see people eat things and get sick, get punked and pranked, deceive each other to survive on an island, get fired, get their home and bodies made over, be the last occupant of the “Big Brother” house, find love and even watch dysfunctional people live their dysfunctional lives.
And we call them “real wives” of whatever when, in fact, there’s nothing real about them.
At a time when the world is falling apart, American society loses itself in the false realities of television made to strip us of our money and any intellectual dignity we may have left. Reality television is low-information entertainment, supposedly based around the psychology of “keeping it real.” Its simplicity is its attraction to a dumbed-down public with what pundits call a “low-information” capacity.
Even politics targets its issues, its ideology and its spin (articulation) toward low-information voters. The nation has been ripped off, its capital system exploited, its homes taken, its jobs transferred overseas while the public is stuck on stupid, flooded with reality television programming produced cheaply to save media conglomerates money. Another exploitation and a continuation of insulting the public’s intelligence. At what point does the public understand that “reality” on television isn’t reality? How about the biggest news event of the past week–Kim Kardashian filing for divorce?
This whole Kardashian craze is perhaps the biggest demonstration of how contrived “reality” distorts reality. The fact that this 72-day marriage was preceded by nearly a year of hype suggests that this reality star, who has made a career of branding herself as the girlfriend of athletes and entertainers, may have pulled off the biggest publicity stunt of the decade.
The only thing real about this Kardashian was the online porn tape that got millions of hits and branded her as the golddigger that many other women wanted to be. Showing young girls how to trap a rich man, without substance, is a needed skill-set for a low-information public, and this particular Kardashian played to it. It is many girl’s dream to catch an NBA or an NFL player, and these Kardashians rope ’em in like steers in a rodeo.
Their reality has been to make the realities of hyper-consumerism the glamorous life for millions to desire, as fashion, cosmetics and television tap into their pop-culture following that now represents millions on Facebook and Twitter, a reality brand that corporations now pay millions to reach.
One by one we witness a day in this “reality” show based on the public’s willingness to distract itself from life’s real realities. It isn’t until one is nearly brain dead that they come to realize this “reality” is just a mental drain on our emotions, with no intellectual return beyond possibly getting famous, and even paid to be more outrageous than the last reality show you watched.
To be out of the public’s eye, in many industries, is to be deemed irrelevant. But if the only way you can be relevant is to be a reality TV star, then, really, how relevant are you? Conscious rap group star, Flava Flav of Public Enemy, is more relevant in the rap genre than the reality TV genre. The “Flava of Love” casting of him as some kind of Casanova was hardly believable, but somehow its outrageousness made people watch. And the women who made fools of themselves became reality TV stars.
It was Flava Flav who once said, “You can’t stop reality from being real.” At the time, he meant that the reality of America’s race construct can’t be hidden by not talking about it. Today, it would mean that you can’t make sense out of something that is senseless. If it doesn’t make sense, why would you tell us that it does? The only reason you would is because it makes money, and there are some that believe that if it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense. To those who say that, I say, slavery didn’t make sense either … but it made money, not for those who were willing to be exploited, but for those who exploited them.
Reality television makes money for people who are willing to be exploited for fame, or willing to exploit themselves just to remain in the public eye. It is a sad commentary on America culture–not because it exists, but because it is popular and in demand.
America has some real problems as its reality is grabbing most Americans by the throats. None of the problems will be resolved by Kim Kardashian’s multimillion dollar wedding or her apology to fans over her less than three-month marriage.
I’ll bet you one thing, though. I’ll bet she keeps the gifts … her wedding was real life, even though it was supposed to be good reality television. They didn’t mix. Real life and false realities rarely do.
Hopefully, America can now tell the difference.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, “REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st- Century Popular Culture.” He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@dranthonysamad.
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