Getting Dumber

posted in Miscellaneous, People on Dec 9, 2006

Why I am watching the Real World Casting Special at 3:30 am I have no idea, but it makes me think of a couple of things.

The first of these things is pretty skin deep: this show reverses any process of gaining intelligence. In fact, I could go out on a limb and say that it stunts any growth of my grey matter. I understand that I’ve eclipsed the target audience of the show. I’m older than 14, so it is no longer interesting for me to get emotionally involved in the the capers of 7 unlucky strangers who like to gripe and moan about being put in a sweet pad and – oh no – having to deal with people and compromise. But that’s not even the worst part.

The worst part is the fact that MTV has consistently lowered the standards of who they put on the show and its content. I understand the need to keep up with the times, and having more sexually charged individuals really doesn’t separate itself from the rest of trashy television, but it’s nearly out of hand. Nearly every character on the show is so promiscuous that The Real World should be changed to The Real World of STDs. Sex on television doesn’t bother me, but I remember watching this show years ago thinking of all of the cool crap these people get to do and see, and it was more about the interaction and locations than sitting around and banging each other. As a teenager, it was cool, and I wanted to emulate those people, even though it was fairly tangential: me wanting to be in those locations rather than being any one of them. Although I understood that, by watching those shows, one gets involved their stories intentionally or otherwise. This is exactly why the show now is kind of alarming. A teenager watching it could see all of the unconsequencial sex and think: “Well, it’s time to get down.” There really are no repercussions to anything those people do on that show. Maybe they need to write it into the plot that one of them gets herpes or the Pamela Anderson strain of Hepatitus C.

I’m not saying that The Real World is ruining our youth, or some crap that could only flow from the tired mouth of an alarmist senator somewhere, but it just makes me think of what kind of standards mainstream television holds for their audience. They know that sex sells, so to boost some Nielson ratings every season of this show has to be raunchier than the last. It’s just kind of sad that they take advantage of our need to be stupid. It’s so much easier to watch a show where people yell at each other and sleep around than it is to watch anything else. And I’m no different. I’m sitting here watching this show, knowing it provides little to no meaningful entertainment, yet I can’t look away. It intrigues me and makes me upset at the same time that they can shove this drivel in my face and I accept it with open arms, spooning in more mouthfulls of their tripe and suckling at their large, contemporary, mass-marketing teet. They know how to hook the dummies, and I don’t keep myself out of this category but I begrudgingly know that I am a part of it.