Here’s a blog entry from SciFi site io9.com, about anti-TV messages in new and old TV shows. It touches on a lot of issues, including reality TV:
Network also raises an important question that many other anti-TV stories deal with. Why is reality TV so evil? It’s partly because reality TV turns surveillance into entertainment, but also because it encourages people to look at each other as fictional characters. Either way, human life is devalued.”
I don’t watch pulpy TV for guilty enjoyment as much as I used to; whether it’s gotten tawdrier, I’ve grown up, or I just don’t have the time to indulge, I don’t know.
It’s worth thinking about both of these points, though: reality TV erodes our ideas about the divide between public and private, even if the subjects give their consent, and it does have the effect of lending detachment to human experiences, positive and negative. Do people become more promiscuous, less committed, and callous towards others as a direct result of watching reality TV? Probably not. But do we become desensitized by treating as entertainment such things as marriages unravelling (Newlyweds, Jon and Kate), the quest for love and/or Jacuzzi sex (The Bachelor/ette franchise), parenting (Jon and Kate, Super Nanny), back stabbing competition (The Apprentice) or the quest for fame and fortune (American Idol)? It’s hard to imagine that we’re not influenced by it.