“This is where the bar was just a few years ago. It was lowered here when President Clinton got a blow job in the oval office and suddenly men who were just getting blow jobs in alleyways thought that they weren’t all that bad.” -South Park
“The bar” has been constantly been getting lower and lower and we as a society are tolerating it. I think we have a big part in allowing this to keep going. We are the ones that support these kinds of shows by watching them and giving them our time. Now, I admit, I do like my fair share of reality shows, yet somehow I still have a “bar” myself. There are shows and movies that I personally think are too “stupid”, “ridiculous” or a “waste of time”, yet I turn to other shows that other people might think are “stupid”, “ridiculous” or a “waste of time”. Where did my ‘bar’ come from? Why are we so drawn into reality shows that are not actually ‘reality’?
In Andy Dehnart’s piece he said, “Reality TV is at once a window and a mirror, showing how real people react and interact in extraordinary situations. It also forces us to consider how we’d respond — and how we are responding to what we watch.” How many times have you been watching a reality show and have been judging the people you’re watching? Ragging on them for how they act, what they eat or what they wear? I know I have done that. We are all guilty of it. And who are we to judge? We’re probably sitting on the couch, watching this show, splurging on pizza and ice cream, and we’re judging the lives of people we don’t know? What would they think about us? Egan Morrissey said that reality TV often gets defined as ‘trash’, which I too have heard. She mentions that “people can pretend that they don’t like seeing other people act like idiots…” but we all know what comes next. Isn’t it entertaining to watch someone act that way? It’s amusing? I’m sure a bunch of people watched The Jersey Shore just for this reason: the drinking, the fighting, the drama. Did we really think they were making ‘smart’ choices?
In Kathleen Parker’s article, talking about Honey Boo Boo, she states, “Obviously, people watch because it is so awful. You can’t believe it and so you keep tuning in.” That is definitely true. How else could this show get the amount of ratings for one of the top TLC shows? Parker also says, “Responsible parents steered their children away not only to protect them but also because, we were taught, it wasn’t right to enjoy the misfortunes or disadvantages of others.” I think this is a big reason why people might watch reality shows as well. As much as people might hate to admit it, you know that you have it better than someone else. This is not a good reason! but it’s probably a common one.
I think ‘the bar’ has been lowering because we allow it to. We have gotten lazy and don’t want to work towards the standards we once had. Now, just about anything is tolerable in a sense. What will it take to turn things around?
I’m not sure, but please excuse me while I go binge watch some more South Park…
Thank you for reading!