Reality TV is a genre of modern American entertainment that seeks to place “normal,” that is, non-celebrity, people and participants in different situations and see who comes out ahead. It is a new and different form of a game show in most incarnations of the genre. Major reality TV shows include “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor” and “The Bachelor.” Regardless of all the fraud involved in these shows, they are manifestly popular.
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Reality TV is tightly scripted and controlled by the networks. Lines are given to participants, and characters, stories and situations are all spelt out in advance by Hollywood script writers, then passed off as “reality.” This is the worst form of social manipulation, as writers, directors and producers hide behind the scenes, anonymous, while the public is led to believe this is “real” life. It is utter manipulation and social engineering (see ref. 3).
Reality TV is misnamed; it has little to do with reality, except the reality that network executives want the public to see. This is the opinion of Hollywood Writers Guild President Daniel Petrie. In fact, the Washington Post reported in 2004 that writers for reality TV shows are angry at their lack of recognition. This lack means they do not get paid according to union rules. Reality TV is not only based on fraud, but also exploitation of participants and writers alike (see ref. 3).
Reality TV provides networks with first rate entertainment without having to pay big names their large salaries. Networks save millions of dollars. Reality TV is, in addition to the basic fraud, about saving money and “creating reality” rather than serious entertainment (see ref. 1 and 2).
This form of entertainment, found in shows like "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race," promotes the vices of cheating and manipulation. Competition, in most of these shows, is the norm, as different “teams” fight against each other by any means necessary. The problem is that, since it is passed off as “reality,” this behaviour is considered the moral “norm.” The basic problem of reality TV is that it creates reality, and hence, posits moral norms and values as “real.” Whatever happens, no matter how terrible or offensive, can be passed off onto the “participants” as “reality” rather than the specific policy of network executives. It is a means of avoiding responsibility (see ref. 1).
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