Reality Television is the term used to describe unscripted, MoTP
-based light entertainment
shows such as those described at length above. It is also, in many people's view, something of a misnomer
. Reality has to be sealed out like bacteria for RTV's knuckle-headed premise to work. Like all commercially successful television concepts, it is based around the following elements:
Viewer familiarity / superiority / schadenfreude
These shows revolve around manipulating the viewer
in the most direct and unsubtle
fashion. Although television executives
may kid themselves that they are creating something worthwhile, they all know in their heart of hearts that people will only watch the show out of some kind of morbid fascination. Whereas conventional light entertainment required that the vegetating plebian audience
to follow a structure (however tenuous), RTV dispenses with this burden, almost clinically relieving the fecund
viewer of their time while offering exactly nothing in return.
Quick and cheap to produce
With no cast to pay, only perfunctory technical efforts needed, and a practically guaranteed advertising revenue, RTV presents a very minimal risk to producers.
Once you have a suitable intelligence-insulting idea and a big TV company to back it (you haven't? Well, try Carlton
or Channel 5
then), it's time to call in a crack team of soulless, profit-driven leaches: the mainstream press. Get your brigade of grinning idiots splashed all over the red-tops, but don't forget to have slightly distasteful reviews and background features in the broadsheet colour supplements, to rope in the burgeoning daft middle-class
sector (like my mum). Shovel your shit down the public's throats for a few days and you'll surely achieve...
The key ingredient, which allows the other elements to work. Because the shows have a captive audience of absolute fucking fools
(especially in this country), the artificial buzz generated by the media will be self-perpetuating. In fact, so little effort is required, I would imagine that a 50-minute sequence of a group of dog turds shot from several hidden cameras would attract 14 million viewers (especially if that Patrick Kielty
twat was on the other side).
Of course, why go to the trouble of thinking of a new idea when someone else has done it for you? This is practically the mantra of television, with programme-makers thanking their lucky stars that there are multiple channels to allow the same crap to be presented with different packaging until it is bludgeoned to death.
So there you have it. Of course, if you plan to follow these steps or are already in the business of making reality television, put a gun to your head soon.
So, with television clearly in a state of terminal decline that can only lead to The Running Man (and I for one can't wait), what can be done to remedy matters? Well, the obvious answer is sabotage. If you're have access to the right equipment (e.g. on a Media Studies course) why not gull the press into covering your fabricated RTV show? Get the Daily Mail frothing and you've won half the battle.
Or how about getting onto existing shows (in the audience or as a contestant) and sticking a spanner in the works? Fake food poisoning, or continually badger the other contestants with abuse, and the show's fucked. Hopefully Chris Morris has something up his sleeve, but with shows as brazen as Popstars being successful, the genre has already gone beyond parody.