Friday, 24 August 2012

Reality TV - Are the wrong people getting famous?

In Australia we've fallen into line like sheep to create our own version of Jersey Shore, The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea. 

There are others, but you get what shows I'm talking about. Our version is called THE SHIRE. Named after an area of of our most beautiful coast.

These people are plucked from obscurity and some are very typical young adults who, filled with the inexperience, insecurities and passions of being young, do and say stupid things and make poor decisions for our viewing pleasure - and that makes great TV. 

These are the idiot years in our lives. 

At twenty, I remember being stopped with a group of friends on a road trip up Australia's east coast by police who had a drug tip off to look out for our car. They found us on our way home. The dope was in the door panel and screwed on tight and the only trouble we got in was when we were asked if we were carrying "gear" and we pointed to our tennis racquets. They ticked us off for being smart mouthed. 

Almost from that day forward I've stayed clear of drugs. Not for any valid reason. They never really did a lot for me and when my ex was heavily into party helpers and would then spend the rest of the week bitching at me, I decided drugs simply weren't for me.

My point is that we all do dumb stuff when we are young and many of us, most of us, go on to have more than respectful lives. So I'm not down on all these people within the spate of reality shows that are now rating so well, in fact I'm making the point that we would all, at that age, come off as irresponsible and stupid to some degree.

These people, if they play their opportunity well can turn their reality stardom into a cash cow that can carry them a lifetime. Dare I say the word Kardashian? So we should remember these people are not just being filmed for entertainment, but because they agreed to have their lives documented because they too see an enormous opportunity for wealth, fame or both.

When one of these reality stars prove themselves to be the worst amongst us, what should be do? Obviously this makes great viewing and we watch in awe and with hope of seeing there demise in the same way that well constructed drama characters draw an audience who love to hate.

Is this fair or just? Don't these people still end up getting huge rewards for being disgraceful? What is a producer's responsibility to the viewers over assigning such rewards and what are the viewers responsibilities to validating them?

The new show in Australia is called the Shire. A few weeks ago two female cast members of The Shire - Vernesa Toroman and Sophie Kalantzis - were involved in a suspected knife attack outside a cafe in Rhode and then just last night another cast member of the The Shire was charged following an alleged homophobic attack that also involved two other cast members. Daniel ''Folkesy'' Folkes, 24, was arrested shortly before midnight after allegedly urinating on a man while the two other cast members, aged 27 and 28, abused the man with homophobic insults.

If I was producing this show I'd follow these arrests within the show through a narrative of these people going to the court to face charges and their and their family and friends thoughts and views on what they'd done. The moment charges were proven I'd be filming the meeting between the cast member and the producers of the show and airing their termination. At least it would show the producers understand that there's a line to being young and stupid and just like in the real world - if you cross it - you pay a severe and very real price and being young and silly is no excuse for committing serious crimes. 

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