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Monday, 18 June 2001

Out There / In Here: Focus on Me: Reality Entertainment and What It Says About Us

Written by  Sara Eisen

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Not too long ago, in a far away place called reality, people lived, loved and worked in private. Regular people, living in places like Bakersfield and Decatur, were dentists and flower shop owners. They read books in the evenings and went to movies on the weekends and watched TV.

Nobody watched them.

Movie stars lived in Hollywood, and we paid them to entertain us.

Then something happened. It was such a blur that I didn't quite follow the progression. But the end looked something like this:

The regular people - they started to put cameras in their bedrooms and send the images out for millions of people to watch them sleeping and having sex and reading in bed.

They clamored to be featured on shows where your ex-boyfriend could throw a chair at your current boyfriend.

They liked to watch stuff that happened around the corner, not the movie studio copycats: real cops busting real abusive boyfriends, real college quarterbacks falling into the stands and breaking a leg (live!), and real romantics proposing to their girlfriends while jumping out of a plane.

Real eye surgery.

Real presidents and their sexual habits.

The TV people in Hollywood even figured out how to put real people on an island and let them tough it out, on camera.

So here's where I'm troubled. Here's where I need to take my moment.


Why do so many of us need to be famous, any way we can?

Why do we need to peer into the lives of others?

I have something of a guess from the gut.

I feel that it has to do with the breakdown of our self-respect, and the ensuing breakdown of our respect for each other.

Perhaps we have a collective hole inside, one that needs to be filled by being special and famous.

Maybe because so many of us are no longer treasured and built up in families, we need some guy named roadrunner_37 on AOL to tell us that he likes our pics and that he thinks we're hot.

Maybe watching real people screw up and make fools of themselves on live TV makes us feel better, like we aren't as pathetic as we thought.

I think Reality Entertainment is all about feeling emptiness if we "just" live our lives, as regular people... How can we count if we are "only" flower shop owners in Decatur?

If we aren't in front of the camera, it seems, we feel that we don't even exist at all.

And I think this lack of ability to feel whole, present, and irreplaceable has to do with parents and kids losing communication, losing ground.

Families failing to make kids feel like they are important. Valuable.

I think that privacy isn't important to people because people aren't important to people. Only grabbing love off the streets any way they can.

And here's what else:

Only we can fix it.

By making sure, when we become parents, that our kids feel more special than they ever could as a JPEG file in a chat room.

I think that only we can change the future, by changing our perceptions of ourselves, and the way we help our children form their perceptions of themselves.

Then they will truly have what to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Last modified on Tuesday, 05 April 2011 12:01
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Sara Eisen

Sara Eisen

Sara is a journalist and editor.

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