Friday, August 06, 2004

Reality Entertainment?

Why do people watch reality shows? It's a strange abomination, and yet, addictive to so many of us.

The answer lies in a combination of expectations and control.

Many of us want to experience clean, refreshing, surprising honest "reality." And yet we want the surprises to be only the good kind, want it to be predictable, and under our ultimate control -- under anyone's control, as long as a hint of it is there.

What we really lust for is a series of plausible free-form events that are plotted like a genre story, with the "genre" determined beforehand by the thematic focus of the reality show. This way we get the best of both worlds, the danger and raw energy of real living and the safety and pleasant entertainment values of controlled meaningful art.

It is a comfortable illusion that straddles the edge between predestination and free will.

And in this complex world, it's the secret place we feel most comfortable being, for the moment.

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