Reality T.V.–The Tractor Beam of Stupid


Fridays are free-for-all for me, so I am going to pick on reality television….cuz I just don’t get it.

I feel this nonsense began back with Oprah and Donahue until it devolved to rednecks stripping to reveal body parts no human should ever be subjected to seeing—even blurred out. So did America just get bored waiting until the next episode to figure out which of the seventeen men actually was the father of Faylene’s child? Did we tire of circus midgets, strippers, freaks, and sluts with secrets? I don’t think we did. I think this human depravity just became more sophisticated and, frankly, retarded.

And what is worse, is I still get sucked in. As much as I abhor it…it’s like seeing a massive ten-car pileup and then trying NOT to look.

Do any of you remember the days you were home sick flipping through channels? Who couldn’t help but stare, even for a minute or two, when the chairs went flying? I used to play my own mental game where I would watch the shows with the sound turned off. See if I could guess the topic of that day’s show just by body language and the characters sitting on the stage.

Was today, “I Have a Secret?” And if so, I would see if I could guess what the secret was before the cross-dressing lover came flouncing out from back stage. Sick. I know. But a great way to pass the time when you have the flu.

So here we are. Many of us are still rubber-necks with 553 channels of crap to fulfill our twisted sense of entertainment. And what is worse is that I am a WRITER! I just finished rereading Lonesome Dove and read The Road….PULTIZER WINNERS! And yet there I find myself sitting, wondering, Are her boobs real?

And admittedly I’m a bit ticked. I can never get back the hour of my life wasted on “Sunset Tan” or “Jersey Shores.” Never regain the hour I frittered away, entranced, while Missy and Buffy posted trash talk on Sunny’s Facebook page because Sunny made the fatal error of hitting on Brandy’s ex-boyfriend, Brandon, whom she still wanted to be with even though she had a new boyfriend . . . Brandon 2.0. And that if Sunny would have just asked Krissy, she would have told Sunny that Brandy still loved Brandon 1.0 even though she cut all his tires.

Ok . . . my head hurts.

And the Kardashians…who are they and why do we care to keep up with them?

I will never recapture the time wasted watching dog-groomers compete, or chef’s throw insults and Steak au Poivre at each other. Will never get back the hours watching otherwise smart, talented, beautiful women claw each other like desperate hyenas to garner the Bachelor’s vacuous proposal. Will never regain the precious moments squandered over gawking at the Real Harpies…uh, I mean Real Housewives of the O.C.  

None of us will. We could have been reading Dostoevsky. Or curing cancer. Or learning what exactly the Railroad Commissioner does. But, we don’t. And the only remedy seems to be regular inoculations of the Discovery or History Channel. Or cold turkey. No T.V.

Because we can’t help but wonder which seventeen-year-old anorexic giantess with super poofy lips will be the next Top Model. And that is why reality television makes my scratch my head and wonder?…WTH?

Am I the only one who’s been sucked into the Tractor Beam of Stupid? Share your stories! Comment and tell us if you had to endure reprogramming after they took The Simple Life off the air, :D. How did you escape?

Have a fun, happy and safe weekend. Will see all of you on Monday to discuss more topics on the craft of writing.

Until next time…

Noteworthy blogs for the week:

Tips for Writing a Series. Posted by Chuck Sambuchino on the Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog

The Value of Editors posted by DigitalBook World

A Great Mash-Up of All Kinds of Writing Articles This blog has a ton of different choices of great blogs for all kinds of questions and I highly recommend you check out their site.

Why Authors Love Stupid Questions for a good laugh and great information (by talented Tawna Fenske).

Common Excuses for Not Using Social Media (*hint* there are none :D) by brilliant and inspiring Author Jody Hedlund.

For those who want to chip in and help new writer PJ Kaiser establish her brand, please stop by her blog and show some support.  

Anna DeStefano discusses major changes in publishing and how it affects everyone in Direct to Digital Week 1:Practicalities.

Enjoy the blog? Then you need the book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is a fun effective approach to marketing and building a platform of future readers. Yes, you have to learn to market, so why not have a good time? I am here to change your habits, not your personality.


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  1. While the higher pleasures may give you deeper satisfaction, there are merits for the enjoyment of the lower pleasures. Healthy food is a noble and life-sustaining thing to make the foundation of your diet. But may not fill your hedonic desires. The temporary joys of trashy T.V are like a delicious ice cream sundae. You don’t want to eat them all the time, but once in a while, they tickle then part of your brain that seeks social engagement and, perhaps, conflict.

    What has been said about being stupid? The stupid have way better stories to tell.

  2. LOL…so true. Maybe reality TV should be considered “research” for writers, :D. I love the ice cream sundae analogy. I think you are on to something.

  3. Some of it actually is educational. I’m a fan of Kitchen Nightmares. Chef Ramsey can teach everyone a lot about running a business.

  4. I’m actually happy that i have very little time for TV. When I do watch, it’s usually the Daily Show or Colbert on my DVR. My one guilty pleasure is American Idol and it seems that may be more guilt and less pleasure in the upcoming season without Simon.

    My hubs, on the other hand, loves junk TV – I think it’s very relaxing for him after his hi-stress job.

    Thanks very much for the great list of articles and the link over to my blog 😀

  5. I spend most of my time writing, but consider “reality” TV a break from reality. I am an AI’er, and agreed, next season will be much less shiny without Simon. I also have an addiction to the Biggest Loser, but why do I tend to eat pop-tarts while watching? There I said it, now discuss amongst yourselves.

  6. Lol. Guilty. My low point was when I was wasting an afternoon in a Lazy Boy, snarfing potato chips and watching Geraldo. The episode was, “People Too Fat to Leave Their Homes.” I looked at the chips in my hand, and an ugly future flashed before my eyes. I’m pleased to say I turned off the Tube, tossed the chips, and took a walk instead. Still shuddering from the image.

    So glad you’re posting 3x per week now. All the best.

    • Kait Nolan on August 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm
    • Reply

    Reality TV is such a misnomer. There’s nothing realistic about the Bachelor or daytime TV or any of the other ridiculous live action shows that are, nonetheless, still somewhat scripted. The “reality” TV that I like comes in the form of the food network or HGTV where, at least I’m seeing legitimate food be cooked (and I’m a foodie so that’s something I enjoy) or learning how to do some kind of home improvement (and I live in a fixer upper). It’s the ten car pileup, obnoxious, trashy TV that I just do NOT understand the appeal of.

    Thank God for DVR. I never have to channel surf again.

    1. I DVR tons of documentaries. I am the QUEEN of documentaries. But this “reality” (yes, use the term loosely) is just so horridly staged and laughable that I have to be careful channel surfin because I get….stuck. But what a way to study the role of the antagonist, 😀

    • funcitygal on August 16, 2010 at 2:57 am
    • Reply

    I have to admit that I am too busy watching reruns of Friends and Law and Order to spend time on reality tv. If I could break that habit by switching to a little Reality TV, I might actually be more productive.
    @Kait, due to DVR I do not watch commercials and therefore have no idea what movies are coming out or what better tv might be out there.

    • Geoff on May 29, 2014 at 4:28 pm
    • Reply

    I tried shooting my DirecTV dish with a BB gun, but it didn’t keep honey boo boo away.

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