This is a relatively recent development
in the entertainment industry
. The idea is that the world's television viewing audience
gets to watch real people
in real situations.
Granted, on paper it sounds like a crappy idea. But just look at the success had by such shows as MTV's The Real World, Survivor, and Big Brother. Not to mention the myriad of home-video-based shows, that the profusion of programs sporting "World's Blankiest Blanks" as their title.
It's easy to see why the latter shows get good ratings: it's real people getting hit in the crotch with a baseball. You can watch it on a movie and know its not real, but there's something special about it all when you know that it actually happened and didn't involve a stuntman and computer graphics. All the car chases, airplane crashes, and police shootouts are all just variations on the "hit in the crotch" theme.
As for The Real World, Survivor, and others of that ilk, there is a more sinister method that television executives use to get entertainment value. Let's face it... most of us are NOT very entertaining. If you pick a random guy off the street and broadcast everything he does to millions of people, you're not going to get many viewers. A normal person's life pretty much revolves around eating, sleeping, and sitting on the toilet. Nobody's going to set their VCR's to tape Billy Bob Buttplug's visit to the dentist.
Unless, of course, Billy Bob has some major personality disorder. And THAT's the draw with these shows. Since the producers get to choose who ends up in the house/island/alien planet, they naturally choose a bunch of people who can barely get along with their own clothing, much less people who're as messed up as they are. Then, as an added bonus a few relatively normal people, the eating, sleeping, sitting on the toilet-type of people, are thrown into the melee and forced to cope. They eventually deteriorate into gibbering idiots themselves... and the audience LOVES it! They're captivated by the conflict that goes on between the retards and the normal people, and they love to fantasize about what they would've done in that position. In the meantime, they watch the commercials and the producers get paid zillions of dollars for coming up with such a great idea. Meanwhile, the only cast members who come out of the deal with any real fame are the complete jerks who made life miserable for the rest of the people on the show.