Friday, August 25, 2006

Reality TV Becomes Too Real

So at long last Big Brother has come in for criticism from the professionals but one which falls short of actually accusing the show of sado-masochism and the promotion of public humiliation . The British Psychological Society questioned the involvement of its members . "...The main areas of concern, was the possibility that "vulnerable people" had been included in this year's line-up and that psychologists may have been involved in the "deliberate stressing" of individuals..." . Televised mental torture tops the ratings . Consent of those submitting to have psychological pain inflicted is no defence under the law as upheld in regards to physical cruelty as S & M devotees have discovered . But of course the boundaries between torture and manipulative mind-games has been deliberately blurred by the acceptance of Guantanamo Bay interrogation methods by the State . With BB it was sleep pattern disruption or actual deprivation , controlled drug administration ( the copious amounts of alcohol provided to BB participants and the denial of nicotine on shopping lists as a punishment to addicted smokers ) , conflict- creating rather than anger-managing role-play games , the carrot and the stick punishment regime , competition versus co-operation , and of course the all- seeing 24 hour surveilllance . The real tragedy is that it reflects what real life is really like . TV shows are no longer escapist portals into fantasy but mirrors into our own very real world .

In America the reality show Survivor has now set ethnic group against ethnic group . "... 20 "castaways" would be initially segregated into groups of blacks, whites, Asians and Latinos...".
In the home of individualism and the land of individual achievement , the game-show will now involve as Hispanics Across America founder Fernando Mateo describes "The participants will be held to the daunting and unfair challenge of representing an entire race of people..."
Why not just call the programme "Race-War" .

But , it is one of Channel 4's future programmes that saddens me the most . A programme called Reverse Anthropology is to be made . Peoples from supposedly more primitive societies will be brought to the UK to study our own social behaviour . Reverse Anthropology will show how a tribe of Pygmies will survive a hunting expedition in the UK, then report their experiences. A tribe from the nation of Vanuatu might be in the program; the tribe worships the Duke of Edinburgh as a divine leader. The series will show some of our rituals - the gym, queuing, getting drunk on a Friday night, golf, showing a lack of respect to our elders according to the makers .
Just how heartless can we be in treating innocent and unsuspecting people as mere amusements for an evenings viewing entertainment . Removing them from family and friends and confronting them with a complicated and confusing modern technological world . Would the animal welfare charities permit lions or a zebras to be brought to this country and let loose to see how they adapt to inner city London instead of the savannah . Reminds me of those childish questions we would ask in school play-grounds ...what would win in a fight between say a polar bear and a tiger for instance , questions that were sometimes answered for real in the circus arenas of the Roman Empire

I once read the Forest People by Colin Turnbull . There is a section there , where he takes some of his Pygmy friends on a trip out of the jungle . At one point Turnbull points to a herd of buffalo several miles off in the distance but the Pygmies has no concept of perspective to judge size , acquired characteristics perhaps . On a plain necessary attribute but not in a densely wooded forest where limits of visibility is measured in metres . They believes the buffalos to be insects . And as they approached closer they still are unable to comprehend that they were looking at the same animals as before .

And why should we submit such vulnerable people to deliberate exposure to culture - shock . It's the ratings - "...Channel 4 hopes the series, due to air next year, will act as a counterpoint to programmes like BBC Two's Tribe, which sees Bruce Parry explore different cultures from around the world...". And what's ratings ? Revenue . Money . Profits .
How far down this sick road can TV go ?


John said...

Great to see another socilaist Blog up and running. Hope its not another bus service blog like mine - wait ages for a ppst to come along and then three at once;-)


gray said...

You said it John....Tum-tee-tum. LOL :P

Nice to see you back Alan. Now I know where to steal.....err sorry - did I say steal? to note good ideas

Darren said...

Congrats on kick starting the blog again, and I'll be nipping at your ear if you allow it to fall into disuse again. ;-)