Unless you happened to be living under a rock for the last decade without a television, then you are probably aware of the most recent television craze: Reality Television. Whether it be Big Brother, MasterChef or Keeping Up With The Kardashians we have all become consumers of some sort of this broad-spectrum genre of television.
Photo Credit: Eva Renaldi (Flickr)
Reality TV gives us the same soap opera drama that’s been around for decades, but it is only now, in the past ten years, been branded under this term.
Our favorite reality stars are ubiquitous for anyone who interacts with contemporary media. With growing access to these stars’ personal lives via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Keek, etc. – we can feel like we know them as we are granted access to various aspects of their fascinating private lives. With this privacy barrier obliterated, not only through social media but also in the programmes that document their day-to-day goings on, we start to feel like we’re their friends, that we know them. We gave gained access to a multitude of different ways to watch them get ready for elite red carpet events and other aspects of their lives such as giving birth to their babies, so we feel we are involved in every step of their lives.
Us younger people of the “Generation Y” bracket have come to believe that fame is the highest sense of achievement. As, let’s face it, they are just a more glamorous, insanely wealthy version of ourselves. We have come to think that fame is realistically achievable with social outlets like YouTube turning everyday people into Internet stars like Jenna Mourey better known by her YouTube pseudonym ‘Jenna Marbles’, a seemingly normal girl from Boston, Massachusetts. Is it any reason we believe fame to be so readily attainable?
We are instilled with belief that one day we might reach these goals and maybe that’s where our obsession with this genre stems from. The line between ourselves and the make-believe reality we see on television has become more blurred to the extent that we identify with these over-night celebrities that this form of TV has created. There is a further blurring of reality in such shows such as Made in Chelsea, which from first watching is a glamourized, often ‘set-up’; scenarios set is various idyllic areas of London. This compared to a show such as Geordie Shore, which provides its viewers with a very realistic version of what happens when a group of young adults live in a house together, obvious drunkenness and real-life drama primarily based on jealousy. These two shows based on similar concepts show vast differences between the make-believe reality and the real life reality shown on television.
If you look at the news on social media sites or on the television proper, you will find news about the weather, the latest war in a distant country, unemployment rates and the Kardashians. We are a culture obsessed with Reality Television and without exception and beyond better judgment; the Kardashians are Reality TV royalty.
The offspring of ‘momager’ Kris Jenner and her two former husbands, the late Robert Kardashian Sr., (a lawyer in the OJ Simpson trial) and Olympic legend Bruce Jenner, Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Rob, Kendall and Kylie and their growing family have all become household names across all generations.
Cameras have followed them in their daily lives since 2007 and there is no sign of them slowing down. The camera not only showed viewers their antics and dating lives but also showed their ability as intelligent entrepreneurs and businesswomen. Sisters Kourtney, Kim and Khloe began their boutique DASH in 2006 and due to the shows popularity, the girls were able to open flagship stores in Miami and New York, their TV show documented this journey.
However great it may be that we have access to these people, who have undoubtedly become more famous than the Queen, or even more accurately God, it merely shows us how little we need to contribute to attain the scale of fame these celebrities have. The underlying issue however is finding the line between reality and what we are fed, through the social media of these celebrities, is “reality”. Most recently Kim Kardashian, on a family holiday to Thailand, uploaded a picture to her Instagram that she hadn’t taken herself, she had sourced it through an image-sharing site online. This only proves that what we are being told is reality by these ‘elite’ is not only not our reality, it is also, clearly, not theirs. It is almost as if, hey want us to believe that they are living the high-life, which undoubtedly they are in comparison to us lowly, ordinary folk, but yet they cannot upload an original photo for their fans to consume, it has to be the best PhotoShopped, filtered, make-believe version of a reality that doesn’t exist.
The primary question remains, are we obsessed with reality television? The answer truly depends on the individual and whether or not this genre is going to continue into the Twenty-Second Century.
If this trend does continue however, us “Generation Y” kids, who are known as “incredibly sophisticated, technology wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches” according to socialmarketing.org, we, as the upcoming generation of media producers and contributors, may have to change some things in order to preserve our “sophisticated” minds.