Editorial: Where does reality begin?

Editorial Board

Reality television. Whether you like it or not, it is out there and it is making the big bucks.

Everyone is looking for their 15 minutes of fame, so some producers are more than happy to use and abuse the personal lives of nearly anyone from any walk of life in order to fulfill their desire for stardom and to line their own pockets.

This desire to be noticed is nothing new, but the degree to which folks are finding modicum of success thanks to the interconnectivity granted through social media, compounded with the instant and repeat viewability of previews or clips of a TV show — and even the entire show itself — has truly turned the world into a stage.

The question then must be begged whether this constant pseudo-life in the spotlight has altered the means by which a person presents themselves day to day.

The images seen in advertisements and TV shape our decisions, of this there is little doubt. Consider now the possibility for over-the-top adherence to an image in order to “sell” yourself to the public to gain that viral video infamy.

MTV’s slew of reality TV auditions carry a distinct appeal for those in the college age-bracket, and with that appeal comes the plotting of how “best” to present yourself in order to be picked up for the show.

Think about this for a moment: If people are altering their personality and image in order increase the chance of being noticed at these auditions — which is very likely — then how skewed must their personality become once they do land a starring role playing “themselves”?

Those very people that allow the public to view their personal lives are already no longer a part of “reality”; the scenes tend to have a base script, the cast is fully aware they are under scrutiny from the public and producers that decide whether this chance at fame and fortune continues.

This is not reality. This is a pseudo-event. There is nothing wrong with staged events, so long as people realize that the spontaneity of it all is hardly an off-the-cuff occurrence.

Now realize that those same would-be stars that did not make the cut are likely going to continue to desire to be a star, and possibly audition again for some show or another.

Do you think they are going to stop honing their “best” image of themselves, or do you think they will evaluate who was picked and see what they can change about themselves in order to be “better”?

Between the would-be stars, the arm-chair critics, the casual viewers and the actual cast of these reality shows, where are people actually being “themselves”? Where does the line between the public and the private begin or end?

Maybe it is a good thing people are putting on their “best” face when confronting the public. Maybe it is a bad thing that people feel the need to alter themselves to be more commercially viable, rather than being their “best” just because they want to be.

The real question is: Is real life only as real as the “reality” we are presented with in the media and if so, is there really any difference any more between public and private life?