Sunday, August 7, 2011

changing the channel

Almost every summer I watch a reality/game show on TV that brings all sorts of people together in a house, strangers, with the objective of outlasting the others - at the end, being chosen by their housemates to win half a million dollars. Getting to the end, though, entails quite a bit of deception, back-stabbing, and the endurance of a whole lot of drama. I haven't watched every summer because part of me suspects that surely I have better things to do with my time. I mean...I do...right?

It was fun to find a favorite player or two and root for them as they played their competitions. It was also fun to find the ones I didn't like and watch gladly as they lost out to their competing housemates and earning, to my mind anyway, their well-deserved evictions. It's for the same reasons that I liked watching soap operas in the past. In high school I watched "Days of our Lives," and up until a year ago, every now and then, I'd watch "The Young and the Restless." It was the tragedy and romance, the ups and downs of the human experience that I thought were fun to watch. The "Good vs. Evil" theme is pretty compelling. It's fun to root for the "good guy" and to hate, hoping for the demise, of the "villain." I loved watching both types of characters having to face the consequences of their actions, and always hoped for the wayward to find redemption.

I've always preferred drama to comedy. I love to laugh, don't get me wrong, but I like dramas as entertainment, I guess, because they seem more real to me. If I want to escape reality, I have an excellent imagination for that. But as far as movies and television, the drama genre captures the swing of human emotion in a way that others don't - and I like that. You're able to see humanity's feelings in theirs. Plus the Yin-Yang nature of life has always fascinated me.

With drama for entertainment, though, there seems to be an inordinate amount of darkness. It seems like all they do is lie, steal, and manipulate, stirring up all kinds of needless drama for themselves. It's gross. I wouldn't want these people as my friends, so why am I watching it on television for fun? Without conflict, there's no story - and in this case, no game - but I'm just at the point where I've had enough. It's becoming less fun for me.

I don't know if it's just this year's group of players or a greater sensitivity on my part, but it's really started to get under my skin. I was watching tonight and I noticed the tightening of my chest and just how personally I was taking their rude actions towards each other, and I thought how crazy I was for sitting there watching it - and for letting myself be so affected. I realize that humans are not all good or all bad. I realize it's partly editing, it's partly the stressful, diabolical nature of the game - but the people on this show are so arrogant and just plain mean to each other. I can't stand watching people being hateful on purpose. I don't like bullies and can't stand cockiness. It pisses me off - way more than it should, I admit.

I just wonder why people can't compete and still be decent. I'm not saying everyone should gather together, smiling pointlessly while singing hymns. But can't you play a game, still looking out for yourself, without having to be a combative asshole towards your opponents? Can't you play to win AND have a grace about you? Is it really necessary to make another person your enemy? That's the nature of competition, I get it; you're there to win...I'm just asking whether or not it's possible to play a game for the FUN of it without being ruthless and intentionally insulting in the process?

I have no idea what it's like to live in that house or to be on camera with strangers 24/7. I know it can't be easy. Hell, I get in all kinds of nasty moods! I'm certainly not always kind. It's an emotional situation for them and I know they're doing the best they can - but I've got enough egoic junk of my own. Watching these people yell and cry and insult each other doesn't seem like the wisest spending of my time. I'm in no way dissing anyone that likes this show - or the players. I get how it's seen as fun. I've seen it that way too. But for whatever weird reason, I can't watch it anymore without feeling crappy - so it's time to wish them luck and change the channel.

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