Can Reality TV Be Dangerous? Prime-Time Tabloids and Consequences

Is reality T.V. a killer?

Posted Aug 16, 2011

The husband of one of the stars of the television show "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" has apparently hanged himself in his home. Could his suicide be a direct consequence of his participation or his now estranged wife's star role on the show?

Personally, I think that reality television, which has essentially elevated tabloid prying into a mainstream product and a "legitimate" function of celebrity, can have far more negative consequences than simply making us dumber. It can hurt our sense of self.

In the case of Mr. Armstrong, the multi-millionaire suicide mentioned above, having millions of eyes watch as his family, marriage, and life fall apart on the silver-screen may have simply been too much. From everything I've heard, this next season, the first episode of which was just released, placed the demise of everything he knew front and center for the next few months for everyone to see.

I imagine that would add a little stress to anyone's day.

Imagine the inner-most secrets of your existence displayed like window-dressing for the rest of the world to gawk at, envy, make fun of, and deride... A single occurrence of an episode focused on my weaknesses would make me rethink celebrity forever, screw scheduling an entire season of it.

True, either Armstrong or his wife signed up for this deal, right? But does the commercialization of celebrity for the masses make its outcomes any less horrifying? Kim Kardashian and the rest of the clan may enjoy many aspects of their celebrity-for-now status but they are certainly not in control of it regardless of what Mom Kardashian thinks. Money and viewers are what drive this industry just like every other part of the diamonds-and-dirt entertainment world. If the next set of millions comes of the back of a Kardashian fiasco the narcissistic masses will send other minions to take their place.

For a guess at how long the line is all you have to do is tune in to any of the Idol/Talent/Factor/Voice star-manufacturing shows. America is lining up for its chance at being ridiculed on television.

So yes, I think Reality Television has made us dumber, if only because it has made everyone believe that the poorly scripted, crudely edited, and horribly acted crap we are fed is an actual form of reality. It absolutely is not. But I think that the real problem is that Reality Television has made so many of us lose our sense of self in search of a public existence we probably don't really want and can't really stand.

Russell Armstrong apparently couldn't stand it anymore.


© 2011 Adi Jaffe, All Rights Reserved

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