Is Reality TV Ruining Our Humanity?

July 3, 2015  |  

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I know, I know, I’m one of the main contributors on MadameNoire who write posts on reality television.  I do.  I still actively watch all of the reruns of the “Flavor of Loves,” “I Love New Yorks,” “Rock of Loves,” “Laguna Beaches,” and a few others that aired while I was in college.

But, as I’ve gotten older, and the participants have too; I have to be honest, reality television has lost part of its appeal for me.  Besides “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and a few guilty viewings of “Love and Hip Hop” New York and Hollywood, I don’t really care too much for most of the current shows out now.

I would like to think that it’s maturity that has squelched my reality television appeal.  I honestly believe that that’s part of it, but I feel like an even larger part of it is when reality television becomes real and reminds me that we’re watching actual people, not actors.

That became abundantly true for me when the Duggar Family’s scandal broke.  Before it became public, I remember my youngest sister telling my family about how rumors had been swirling about Josh Duggar for years.  According to someone who claimed to be a church member, there was an old online post about him confessing his misdeeds to his church before being sent away for “help.”  After that, she declared never to watch the show again. But since the show continued to air, I think people just didn’t pay attention to the rumor.

Fast forward to this current year, when the truth revealed itself.  As heinous of a crime as this is, what’s hard for me to wrap my mind around are the people who have wanted to keep the show on the air.  Not out of solidarity to the family, and not for wanting to be in denial about the rumors, but because this family was their entertainment.

I read comment sections that expressed things like:  “Well, just because he did, why do we have to suffer by them taking the show off the air?”

Those types of comments reminded me of the tragedy that changed the course of VH1’s reality show line-ups.

In 2009, Ryan Jenkins, who was a contestant on VH1’s “Megan Wants A Millionaire,” and the defunct season of “I Love Money 3” committed suicide after a warrant was put out for his arrest for the murder of his then-wife Jasmine Fiore.

VH1 decided to not air “I Love Money 3,” and I remember being appalled by some of the comments in the section for it.

There were comments like:  “I mean, I understand that her family doesn’t want to see him, but why do the rest of us have to suffer?  They don’t have to watch the show.”

Sometimes it seems as though when you blur the line of entertainment and reality, people lose sight of the fact that these are real people, who have real lives.  If a show needs to be cancelled or put on hiatus, our focus shouldn’t be on losing our entertainment.

Most people wouldn’t want the difficult times or the fallback they or their family faced documented and then dissected through the world.  They don’t want the person who wronged them to be backed by a population who questions their innocence because they don’t want to miss their favorite show.

There seems to be an essence of lost humanity that comes when we become attached to a reality show.  I feel as though people stop feeling sympathy for the participants because “they decided to be on this show and broadcast their lives.”  However, some of the tragedies that happened were before or away from the glare of the cameras.  Though these people have introduced you into their lives for a few moments a week, never forget that at the end of the day, they are a person, just like you.

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