Pity the poor TV producer of just a few years back. Put yourself in his place.
Imagine that you want to produce a TV show. First, you have to hire some actors. They’re all prima donnas and most suffer from high self-esteem. They’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Not to mention aggravation. As soon as you turn your back, they go on talk shows to promote their nutty religious views, or they say mean things about psychiatrists, whom we all know are the indispensable good guys in white hats today.
Then you must build a city. Or clear traffic in a real city, so as to stage your show. People get mad when they’re late for work because they had to detour because you closed their city because you wanted to film your TV show. They send you hate mail. But some of them don’t get mad. They come and appear in your show as extras……the folks just passing by, street traffic. But you must pay them as well, otherwise they gawk at the camera and wave ‘hi’ to Mom.
Of course, you can’t even get this far unless you have a story to film. You must hire writers. They aren’t cheap either. You will pay substantially for them to write scripts about psychos, perverts, misfits, oddballs, exhibitionists and dysfunctional people, which is all anyone wants to watch today.
These seemingly insurmountable problems would no doubt have derailed the entire television industry, but for a staggering discovery.
The audience of “30-somethings weaned on The Real World and Cops….doesn’t judge reality programs any differently than scripted drama.” (Rosenbaum)
To the TV producer, this statement is as profound as is the pledge of allegiance to the patriot or the Lord’s prayer to the devout person. It is the television equivalent of this verse:
You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
The elusive Rosenbaum, who is on the staff of the Carriertom Into-Wishen Research Institute, or will be as soon as we can track him down, single-handedly saved television!
Why write shows about psychos, perverts, misfits, oddballs, exhibitionists and dysfunctional people when you can just as easily, and for a fraction of the cost, go out and film real psychos, perverts, misfits, oddballs, exhibitionists and dysfunctional people! They don’t mind at all! They crave the attention. And the rest of us, who are mere wannabe psychos, perverts, misfits, oddballs, exhibitionists and dysfunctional people, love to watch their antics. We can’t get enough of it. Thus, the astounding success of reality TV!
Released 30 years ago, the movie Network was billed as outrageous satire. But each year brings it closer to dead-on reality.
The film begins with the anchorman for a floundering 4th network announcing the cancellation of the evening news due to poor ratings. Since he’s getting on in years and has no real prospects, he tells his viewers that he will blow his brains out on his final broadcast, and encourages them to watch.
Friends rally, concerned about his mental health. But the ratings inch up.
He persuades his network to let him broadcast one last time, so he can apologize for his bizarre behavior under stress, so he won’t be remembered as a loony. Alas, he really has gone nuts, and on his supposed-to-be final night he launches into an endless rant on how all life is B.S!
Ratings shoot through the stratosphere!
Some ambitious executives run the network. They rebuild the network around their new “mad prophet of the airwaves!” They surround him with likeminded nutcakes, who spin off into their own programs. They merge the news division with the entertainment division. (Sound familiar?) And when our hero’s ratings start to slip, they….well….I really shouldn’t give that away. But read it here if you must know.
Of course, rated R (mostly for language, which is substantial, the kind of stuff you hear at work or school), how can the film be a Sheepandgoats recommendation? It cannot be. But it is prophetic.
In 2000 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. The movie depicted the concept of reality television a generation before it actually came into being.
Can’t understand this sayin going round says
Put more on with lessons and less on for morons - D Loftus