Reality TV Is About Ratings, Not Altruism
The only reality television show I’ve been able to stomach is Bravo’s ‘Project Runway,’ mainly because it involves two things I adore: fashion and bitchiness. However, when I found out about an ‘extreme’ case of plastic surgery going awry, I was dismayed to learn how low reality TV could sink.
Deleese Williams sued ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover,’ citing intentional infliction of emotional distress over the fact that, among other allegations, once she was dropped as a contestant on the show (because her jaw surgery would not fit in the show’s timeframe), her sister commited suicide after talking trash in on-tape comments about Williams’ appearance. Good to know that along with high cholesterol and spinach, guilt can kill too.
Reality television is a producer’s dream. It combines cheap entertainment with high ratings, keeping the public amused by showing the stupidity and misery of others. ‘Extreme Makeover’ had contestants go through a rigorous screening process in order to receive multiple surgeries at once. This is not only extremely hazardous to one’s health; it also involves major body changes that require a much longer recovery time. And for what? So that someone can be beautiful for other people, or so that they can be on television?
Unfortunately, most reality television takes the form of an unmitigated and out-of-control monster: ugly, sneering and ready to eat people. OK, that TV show hasn’t happened yet, although I’m sure a spin-off of ‘Fear Factor’ might involve getting past three-headed beasts.
The point is, while plenty of reality television is junk food for the brain, some has consequences beyond what’s played out on the screen. Plenty of people have tried their hand at fame through reality TV, and I’m certain all of them have been disappointed, hurt or irate by the outcome. There have been cases on ABC’s other makeover show, ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ in which contestants have complained later that their new and improved homes were falling apart.
Williams had a life, a husband and a loving family who were evidently goaded into saying nasty things about her appearance behind her back. Who wouldn’t suffer emotional distress after finding out that your husband said you were a princess when he really thought you were a toad? I would hope that if I suddenly grew webbed feet or if an accident occurred at a bullfighting competition that someone close to me would have the courage to say, ‘So… about your face….’
Reality television can range from mildly interesting, like a game of Scrabble, to downright hilarious, like an episode of ‘Flavor of Love.’ Still, it seems that providing entertainment at any cost