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Who wants to be an idiot?

POSTED October 20, 2009 11:52 p.m.
I, along with many of my co-workers, took time out of the busy workday on Thursday to watch a giant helium balloon float over the Colorado countryside while it was chased by a plethora of emergency vehicles.
It was like watching the O.J. Simpson chase all over again.
The real-life drama of a runaway balloon that probably contained a small child within was riveting news — even to the usually cynical reporters here at the Journal.
Our hearts sank when the boy was not found in the balloon and newscasters reported that authorities believe he could have fallen out, thousands of feet above the ground.
When 6-year-old Falcon Heene was found safe and sound at home instead of in the balloon or smashed on the ground, the relief and sense of joy that followed was akin to a Hollywood ending of the newest holiday tear jerker.
And on Sunday when authorities said that Richard and Mayumi Heene, Falcon’s parents, had staged the whole incident in an effort to land themselves a TV reality series, the Hollywood ending suddenly turned into a Jerry Springer special episode of “When Parents Go Bad.”
Although sickening, the Heene’s behavior does not surprise me and it is a prime example of why I hate reality television.
Reality television is a plague that is infecting the entertainment industry and social norms of our society.
I remember when a group of talented writers and actors worked tirelessly on their respective crafts to produce must-see TV. Today, primetime shows consist of a producer, a cameraman and the most attention-starved freaks network researchers could find.
I’m positive that the Heenes are not the only ones looking for an angle into their own television series.
In fact, I think we have almost hit the saturation limit when it comes to reality TV. While the cook-offs and wanna-be singing idols will probably have a spot on the primetime line-ups for decades to come, I’m not as sure about some of reality TV’s newest additions.
“Bartender Wars” and “Parking Wars” are two shows I don’t see having a 20-year anniversary cast party.
While Tom Cruise lit up the silver screen in “Cocktail,” I don’t think the New York City bartenders in “Bartender Wars” will be able to hold anybody’s attention for more than a few weeks.
And while Detroit Municipal Parking enforcement officers may be the life of the party at local get togethers, watching people write citations sounds about as interesting as watching paint dry.
It’s no wonder that YouTube is filled with videos of young people doing increasingly stupid things all in the name of self idolization. Youth today see dozens of ordinary people like themselves reaching celebrity status just because they allow cameras to film their most embarrassing moments.
I say shut the door on all-access reality TV. The next time a morally bankrupt exhibitionist seeks a new wife on “I Want to Marry a Millionaire,” change the channel. You will not only be saving your soul; you will also be putting much needed writers back to work!
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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