Amy Stern (bigbrotherreads) wrote,
Amy Stern

BREAKING NEWS: Water is wet!

So last night I was eating a cookie and watching Keith Olbermann, like you do, and apparently, reality shows not being completely "real" merits discussion on the Countdown now. It's crazy!

The current issues related to The Bachelor are hilarious. (For example: 'Bachelor' breaks two hearts in season finale, 'Bachelor' exec producer Mike Fleiss speaks out on controversial finale, ‘Bachelor’s’ Molly: ‘We are happier than ever’)

Not because the situation itself is so funny- well, it is, but that's not my point- but because implicit in nearly all news discussion I've seen of this is either shock (DID YOU KNOW SOME REALITY SHOWS MIGHT BE STAGED?) or condescension (SOME PEOPLE DIDN'T KNOW REALITY SHOWS ARE STAGED!).

Both of which hinge on the idea that viewers watch reality programming because they expect it to be real. Before I watched a single episode of Survivor, I assumed that the castaways were being given food and secretly sleeping in tents once the producers got the shots they needed. Once I started getting into the shows- not even as a crazy fan, just as a "season pass the TiVo and read Probst's blog online" thing- that shifted to recognizing that the situations were real but the social dynamics were manipulated for absolute drama. You don't have to read Stacey Stillman's lawsuit to understand that, you just need to understand basic dynamics. I don't understand how someone who enjoys media, whether or not they've seriously looked at media literacy in any kind of formal way, wouldn't recognize that realism isn't the point, has never been the point, and is in fact basically irrelevant.

To me, the only newsworthy thing about this is that there's basically no way Annoying Bachelor With Son didn't break his contract in some way with this, and I look forward to seeing if there's any fallout from that- especially when the producers are insisting nothing was staged. (If nothing was scripted, there was no nondisclosure contract to be broken! It's a lawsuit moebius strip.)

I don't even watch The Bachelor. I have much less interest in shows where people compete for love than ones where they compete for money, because sincere competitions over emotions bother me in a way that competitions over money and fame do not. (I know, who knew I had a line, right?) But the very fact that this is considered newsworthy reminds me why I am doing all of this research: because someone, somewhere, thinks that what I'm classifying as "basic knowledge" is what some people consider "news."
Tags: reality: the bachelor
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