If I had to draw a reality line in the sand , I would place it squarely at the doorstep of MTV in 1992. The Real World experiment gave birth to what has become “reality TV”. They deserve a pat on the back for breaking ground, no doubt about it , they paved the way for declining morals, GPA’s, and ethics.
I remember when MTV aired nothing but music videos and Mark Burnett produced an obscure program called Eco Challenge. I doubt even the most visionary MTV executive imagined the implications of letting Pandora out of her box. They paved the way for young people to grow up with misguided expectations, unrealistic goals, bat shit logic regarding consequences or responsibility, and reverence for the cult of celebrity. MTV made it possible for anyone to become a celebrity – they launched the age of “surreal” reality.
“Reality” tested the waters with vacant rich kids like Paris Hilton attempting to live a normal life. It gave birth to the Kardashion dynasty, “real” housewives, and Bachelorettes. Soon we were laughing at “Joe Average” as producers duped him into believing audiences weren’t mocking his stupidity. Washed up rockers Flavour Flav and Brett Michaels found “love”, geeks were put on display in Beauty and the Geek. Real life apparently involves the privileged becoming richer, while laughing at schmucks. Soon Snookie and Pauly D were driving Escalades because we couldn’t turn away from their bar fights and drunken stupidity. Yeah – this was reality.
Reality took barely a decade to poison our lives with Honey Boo Boo, Moonshiner’s shenanigans and Amish Mafia. Disgraced televangelist Ted Haggard even had his “reality” displayed , trying to put his “ministry” back in the bank from a barn at his sprawling property. Reality it seems has no boundaries; nothing is off limits – as long as we marginalize, mock, emulate or mess up our priorities. Kudos MTV – you are responsible for turning society into marshmallows – when was the last time you even aired a music video?