I am watching this video:
My two readers have told me that I should really write about this in my typical sarcastic banter, telling me I should write a post and really rail into these guys and the producers for making such an asinine show. I suppose I could rant here and talk about how idiotic these guys are, how they need to get lives and how reality TV is the most self-aggrandizing form of entertainment. There might be some validity to that, but something tells me that is too easy.
For instance, I never understood why so many of my upper-middle class Asians needed to imitate every aspect of “ghetto culture” when they themselves never lived in anything resembling an inner-city. I despise the kid that needs to drop an F-bomb to show he’s “hardcore”. 99% of high school smokers seem like people who don’t have a backbone and just want to do what seems cool and edgy. I find it irritating that some kid who lives in upper-middle class suburbia will actually tell you, “let’s take this outside so I can kick your ass”.
But before I continue, I think I also need to realize that perhaps there is something more insidious brewing in my own heart. People watch these shows, not for the noble lessons they learn or the meaningful themes they can extract but for other reasons. One big thought that I think pervades most of the people watching this show is:
I’m not like them, I am not a loser.
When we watch these shows, we undoubtedly mock whoever is on it. Thank God I am not like that douchebag, with his popcorn muscles and fake tan. Or thank God I am not like that girl who is such a skank and attention-whore. This reality TV only attracts those who are so insecure they need the attention of a TV show to remind them of their self-worth. In essence, a show like this reassures us of our own self-worth. What makes us so special? Maybe nothing, but by comparing ourselves to these clown, perhaps we can tell subconsciously remind ourselves we are at least better than some of them. But I am not even sure that’s true.
I see a bunch of kids who are desperate for attention, even its notoriety of the “Snooki” type. We all want to be loved in some way, damn it if it means making ourselves look like fools. Of course, these reality TV show kids are more blatant and more viscerally disturbing but at the heart of it, what makes them any different from those who choose more refined paths?
This leads to my second point when we say “I know I am not a loser”. I hate to speak for others here (or perhaps I do too much of it), but I understand that my own life is an up and down battle with insecurity. I get irritated when people don’t fully recognize my accomplishments, I get annoyed when I say something and nobody listens, I get depressed when people tell me I am not good enough at something. In my mind, the most important reality TV show is me and I hope that everybody likes what they are watching.
I am not so sure what to say about these kids. I don’t have a bunch of tattoos and earrings. I rarely find myself partying late at night. Yet, at the heart of a show like that, I see a deeper reflection of self on the screen. I don’t need to act like a buffoon daily to realize maybe in many ways, I just don’t want anyone to think I am loser. So something tells me to do better. Inadequacy can be solved if I go to a better school, get a better job, get better friends, get more friends etc. Sure its not acting like a clown on TV, but attention and approval is what I really desire. In my own ways I lack a backbone, daily making decisions based solely on the perception of others. Sounds kind of depressing right?
Let me throw in a different reality TV story here. When we look at the Susan Boyle story, how awesome was it to see this frumpy, quirky and not so sexy woman astound all of us with her beautiful voice. I don’t need to go too deep to capture the joy of the video. Take a look at the video again and watch her reaction as each judge affirms her selection. She can’t believe it! Piers? Amanda? Simon! They all tell her in their own ways that she was indeed special.
We relate to this underdog story, because we see a bit of Susan Boyle in ourselves. There is definitely something unsexy about all of us, something that makes us far from being the belle of the ball or the master of the universe. As a Christian I know this isn’t the end either. You see perhaps a surly member of the audience could have stood up and told Susan that she sucked at singing and it would have made no difference. She had found the “right” source of approval. Who cares what somebody said, the authorities of the competition had already spoken.
As a Christian, I sometimes forget the “right” source of approval in my life; the most important Guy is watching the reality TV show of me. I know I don’t react the way Susan did when the judges gave their remarks; I still fidget at even the idea that someone knows that I am a vast collection of disappointment and failure. This is my “underdog” story. I know deep inside, I am nothing special, nothing sexy, in fact probably somebody undeserving of anything more than this life I have. The cross tells me that God knows this. The cross tells me of how far off I really am. Yet it also tells me not as an underdog no more, but of somebody He approves, somebody He affirms. I need not worry so much about all of my insecurities; something tells me to remind myself the Authority has already spoken for me.