Vol. 7, No. 9
~ Page 11 ~
Now days, you can't turn the TV on without seeing or hearing about a relatively new type of program, the reality show. Only after a few years, the airways are filled with them; they are becoming the sitcoms and dramas of this generation. From MTV, to the Arts and Entertainment Network, to the Discovery Channel, not to mention the Big Four Networks, everyone has jumped on the reality show bandwagon. They come in all shapes and sizes, countless real-life situations for us to choose from. You can watch reality shows about survival competition, house building, choosing a husband or a wife, getting rich, getting poor, getting plastic surgery and living together in some difficult situation. For one hour we can view the most intimate moments of human interaction, all caught on video for us to enjoy. In this article I want us to take a serious look at the "reality show" and determine if is this is the kind of entertainment we need to be watching.
From what I've seen, most of the reality shows are based on the same scenario, take supposedly normal, everyday people, put them in some extraordinary or difficult situation and video the whole thing. There seems to always be an ultimate prize of sorts: money, fame, a new home, even a new face and body. As we watch these casts of characters, we begin to connect with these people, some we like and some we don't. Some we want to "get together" and some we want kicked off the show. Some we want to get the prize, some we want to get what's coming to them. The shows always contain the same elements: high emotion, friendship, jealousy, hate, fist fights, arguments, scheming, sex, materialism, injuries, homosexuality, disappointment, backbiting, and don't forget the bleeps. Bleep after bleep, bleep, bleep, bleepedy, bleep! And we always know what words are bleeped out because the camera is right there teaching us lip reading skills.
It just so happens that as I was researching for this article, I caught part of a program that was an expose or documentary about reality shows. Seems that reality shows are real in the sense that they are shows and they have people in them, but most of the reality stops there. Compare them to professional wrestling if you will; its wrestling in a sense; guys really do jump off the top rope and appear to demolish their opponents, but not until hours of training do they attempt such a stunt. The reality show is the same; casting calls are made to choose the right people with the right characteristics to make us watch. Scenes are staged or recreated if an important, tense moment is missed. I always did wonder why these shows didn't look like a home video rather than a good quality studio show.
So now the question comes to mind, can the Christian, in all good conscience watch such programming? The answer is not as complicated as you might think. Remember the old adage, "You Are What You Eat"? The same principle can be applied to this situation. The apostle Paul said, "Be not deceived, evil company corrupts good habits" (1 Corinthians 15:33). If we expose ourselves to a diet of things that are sinful, our attitudes can become "soft" toward that type of bad behavior. Again, can the Christian watch reality shows in good conscience? No. There is plenty of wholesome entertainment out there for us to choose from; we just have to make the effort the find it. If we can't find it, we can always turn the TV off. We are to keep our minds on good and pure things (Philippians 4:8) so that we can develop the "mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16). But if we think that we can watch these shows, purely for entertainment and not be affected by them, we are sadly mistaken. C'mon get real!