Sunday, September 9, 2007

Real To Real

Repost from Trick Wire

Reality TV creates an ever increasing number of instant celebrities and with the celebrity status comes fans. For some of these now famous people, the fandom can be understandable because their TV appearance showcased their entertainment talent and boosted their career in the fan supported performing arts. For the others, the ones who are more or less ordinary people, the concept of having fans can seem odd.

I think the draw that these reality TV stars have is that they seemingly expose their inner self and this satisfies a human need in the viewers to find and really get to know other people. Socially, we all wear our masks but we long to know what is behind the other person's. That's why reading other people's minds is traditionally the most wished for super power after flying. We want to know and in turn perhaps be known.

Jesse BruneIt's debatable that anyone shows their true personality on TV, but the kind of shows that seem to are not the talent shows, like American Idol or SYTYCD, but rather the communal endeavors, such as Amazing Race, Survivor, and Big Brother. On these shows there is an induced level of stress that intended to cause the participants to throw off their facades and reveal what they are really like. These revelations are then caught by the omnipresent camera, usually in a solitary situation to emphasize that the thoughts expressed are of a deeply personal nature (shared only with the cameraman and a few million viewers). To the people watching at home, it's an easy way to look inside someone and determine if they are someone with whom one would want to be friends or lovers or whatever. The result is that the likable contestants get a lot of fans who wish they could get to know the person on TV or someone like them because they are just so special.

The interesting thing about this is there are plenty of ordinary people all around in real life who may fit the bill just as well but whom you'll never know because they don't come with a "confessional" video with which you can preview their personality. With television you can watch who you want to learn more about and then turn them off when you decide you don't care for them. Obviously, it's not that simple in real life. People would rather not invest the time and effort in learning about the strangers all around them, forgoing the reward of finding a splendid friend in order to avoid the surprise of what else they might find instead.

Unfortunately, it is hard to get to know people on a deeper level. There is a societal condition that thwarts the human nature to know others. It is often expressed with the well known letters TMI. In real life we only let each other reveal enough to stay within the comfort zone, which isn't much. I know that there is no one other that me who really knows who I am completely and I can't decide if it's because I withhold the information or I feel others don't want to know.

With such interpersonal constraints, it's no wonder we turn to television to see what people are "really" like.

I posted picturea of some of my more recent favorites of reality television: James Rhine from Big Brother 6, Jesse Brune from Work Out, and Goil Amornvivat from Top Design.