It seems that it was not all that long ago that I wrote a piece on my perceived danger(s) of reality TV and other such distractions. It was provoked by the whole Duck Dynasty thing being exposed as fake, and I went into detail as to every reason why I hated that show among many others of the genre (including Here Comes Honey Boo Boo).
I do not recall if this was before or after the infamous Phil Robertson interview/publicity stunt that seen A&E cancel the series THAN reverse it, within a very short timeframe. People fumed, got their way, then the show got more exposure then ever.
But go ahead about a year, and apparently the scene has changed. Reality trash tv is taking a nosedive, and the whole segment in general is increasingly losing ratings.
These numbers really do not surprise me. But it seems that changes in the television and technological landscape may be helping drive the decline.
Im thinking that a big part of the draw of these shows (in particular the trashy ones like Duck Dynasty and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo) was monopoly by availability. Meaning that there was just nothing else on, so people settled for the crap.
That is a problem that is quickly becoming a thing of the past due to the DVR, video streaming and downloading. When there is a 20 course buffet available, why would you settle for the single plate meal?
This would also explain why the network television is starting to take a hit as well.
And of course there are alternative sources of media and entertainment. One good example of this is youtube. Some youtube personalities are getting just as much attention and fame from the younger generations coming up as many traditional celebrities.
And of course there is the the camera-saturated society that we live in today. There are more devices with recording and photographic capabilities in the hands of the general public then there has been ever before, and there is more social connectivity with the world at large (VIA social media) then there has ever been before.
People do not have to just tune into reality tv, they can become a part of the show. All they need is a camera.
And in some cases, this may be a good thing. Youtube and the internet has plenty of insightful, intelligent and interesting content creators whom take advantage of the platform. The problem of course is, the others.
Social media is good at delivering endless streams of funny, emotion provoking, short bursts of information. Which I would argue, acts to the detriment of ones attention span if they become to absorbed by the content over a long period of time. All this content also serves as an endless stream of white noise. Sure its easier then ever to make and share content, but you have to compete with, everything else. So you have to get creative in what you would be willing to do just in order to stand out from the crowd.
Which is why it does not surprise me all that much that people have died from trying to get the perfect “selfie”, or that setting yourself on fire was recently a phenomenon (replaced by the ALS ice bucket challenge if I remember correctly).
And that brings us back to the question that caused me to write this piece. Reality TV is slowly dying, but given the context of where the future of entertainment is headed, is that really a good thing?