In the past five years, the entertainment industry has been more and more focused on the idea of reality-based entertainment. This vast desire for seemingly live television has made a great impact upon major network television stations. Shows such as MTV’s Real World and CBS’s Survivor are great indicators of society’s obsession with drama in a ?live? situation. It seems our infatuation with these shows stems from our desire to focus our attention away from our own tribulations and focus on problems elsewhere. Our mysterious want for conflict among others has forced many networks to provoke such drama, for example in Survivor, where castaways are forced to take sides and vote another member off the island. This idea of social Darwinism in shows like Survivor and the ever so popular Big Brother force major networks to create entertainment that both provoke and stimulate disagreement among participants.
Personally, I feel that because of television’s fixation with reality-based programs, people are now turning to the movie industry to get away from such realistic forms of entertainment. Popular movies such as Bedazzled, The Ladies Man, and The Exorcist all deal with fantasy type situations. Bedazzled, starring Brendan Frasier and Elizabeth Hurley is about a man who sells his soul to the devil, played by Hurley. Moviegoers can simply escape reality for a few hours by entertaining themselves with themes such as this. Genres focusing on such fantasy are rarely seen on prime-time television these days, especially on the major networks such as FOX and ABC. Why is this? Well my impression is that people feel as if they deserve to come home and take their mind of the troubles they had for the day. By being able to watch shows such as ER, which ranked first among viewers this past week, people can direct their attention onto another person’s drama while ignoring their own. Voyeurism today is clearly an indicator of change in taste for viewers around the world. According to Time Almanac:1999, the top three shows of 1998 were Seinfeld, Veronica’s Closet, and Friends. If you look at the top three shows during months while a reality based show is being aired, you will most typically find that show to be number one among viewers in the rankings. This growing trend of live-based entertainment is setting a new stage for twenty first century viewers today.
Real-life issues however can be distorted at times when being seen second hand. MTV’s Real World has been accused several times of editing their tape purposely to show conflict for the viewers. From my perspective, I do not see how you cannot purposely create conflict when you put seven completely different people into one house. Add cameras and you are guaranteed drama. This was the same for CBS’s Big Brother this past season. Although the majority of time residents got along just fine, there were many scenes that focused on the personal problems of those living in the house. Whether it dealt with a crush on another member of the house, or a disagreement, viewers were able to relate their issues to those in the house, making them feel as if they are not alone. This is a primary reason why we see such an increase in reality-based television these days.
If you analyze current rankings among primetime network shows, you will not find as many reality based shows. This is because seasons of both Survivor and Big Brother have just ended. New series’ will be coming out sometime in 2001, where networks feel the impact will be even greater than last time. ABC’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is however still one of the top syndicated shows in the industry today. This provides both a trivial and real life perspective for viewers out there. Unlike its other competitors in the world of ?live based? television, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire gives those who watch substance, instead of pure provoked conflict.
Honestly, from my point of view, I feel the relationship between the movie industry and the contemporary issues in society do not represent each other at all. Movies in my opinion deal with much more with unrealistic themes. Either when talking about comedy, or horror-based films, movies tend to provide a much greater perspective of our imaginative side. Recent films such as Me, Myself, and Irene and Whipped, give audiences insane comedy that would never be thought of in the real world.
I also feel movies leave a greater impact on the mind than television shows do. Because movies can be sometimes far fetched, people are many times inspired to act upon what they have seen in movies. Many school killings such as Columbine have been said to be inspired by movies, specifically Basketball Diaries, in which Leonardo Di Caprio’s character shoots his entire class during school. These fantasy ideas given to viewers can sometimes be dangerous for vulnerable teenagers to see, but thanks to laws such as our rating system, the industry tries it’s best to keep such movies out of the minds of our youth.
Another relationship that I found to be very insightful is that of the nightly news and drama based shows such as Big Brother. As focused on earlier in this class, news today deals with mostly negative information and investigative reporting. This so called drama we see in the news is highly demanded; ironically this is exactly what voyeuristic viewers yearn for as well: a situation where conflict and negativity are highly prevalent.
In a nation of immense variety, society has found a common interest when it comes to television shows today. Reality-based entertainment is definitely the standard for today’s major networks. It will be interesting to see what stations come out with in the next few years that deal with our voyeuristic wants. The question on my mind is how far are people willing to go when it comes to submitting themselves to the public for means of entertainment. From what I have witnessed so far, the more money offered, the farther people are willing to take away their privacy and cash it in for fame. What we must realize though is that television shows that are based on real life are still television shows. It’s entertainment and we must not let ourselves get buried into the turmoil of others we see on TV today, even if it seems ?live?.
Movies and Cinema Essays