I’ve read a couple of things this morning that have gotten me to thinking.
One was an article entitled Do Children Ever Belong on Reality TV? And the other was a Mouthy Housewives post about a woman who discovered her husband was trolling the web for local sex partners. Included in the response to the post was this, “If you choose to move on with your marriage, you’ll become obsessed with checking his mobile devices, computer, and mail. You won’t be living your own life. You’ll be trapped into making sure another person is living their life correctly. And that’s just not something you can do.” [Um, Amen! Get the hell outta there!]
I know these two things may not seem connected, but give me a minute.
My immediate response to the question of whether or not children belong on reality TV was that reality TV does not belong on TV. Now, I may be old fashioned, but I detest “reality” TV. It immediately makes me think of the Bible verse, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5). I remember that after hearing this verse as a kid I walked around for a while picturing every person I saw with a huge log sticking out of their eye (it made church services amusing). As an adult, I have realized that is not too far from the truth.
We love reality TV for two reasons.
One is that we get to sit in judgment of these sad people who put themselves out there in a pathetic bid for fame so we can feel better about ourselves.
Now, an argument can be made that they are putting it out there for us to see and judge, so what is the problem? Well, I suppose you have a point. When someone sets themselves up as openly as idiots as these people do, what response do they expect they’ll get? Kate Gosselin bitching about how unfair her critics are is just asinine. Really? You allow cameras into your home for the express purpose of putting yourself on display and then whine because people aren’t nice? Give me a break. You invited the criticism, so deal with it.
The second reason is that we get to be more caught up in how the Kate Gosselins and Kim Kardashians of the world are living so we do not have to look and see how we are living ourselves.
Instead of passing judgment on ourselves and making sure we are living good lives, we have these shows so we can pat our backs and say, “Well, at least I am not like them.”
Maybe the voyeurs among us are just as bad as the attention seekers. In fact, a good argument can be made that the voyeurs are worse. Any one who has ever had a toddler knows that removing attention from attention seekers works wonders. But what do we do with attention seekers here in the US? Give them primetime with a whole network to promote their “Look at me! Look at me!” attitude. We give them a platform and then judge them for their behavior when we know there has to be something wrong with them in the first place. And then we sit back in our nice warm blanket of superiority and think how terrible they are as mothers, fathers, friends and employees.
Well, Matthew nailed it sometime in the 1st Century, so it cannot be that much of a mystery. Removing the log in our own eye hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. So you bandage it up as best you can and do whatever is necessary to try to forget it’s there. The speck in your neighbor’s eye is much easier for you to deal with, anyway. You have all kinds of advice for how to get that sucker out, right? In fact, if they will just hold still and let you,you could have that baby out in no time. But this? Oh, it is nothing, I’m good.
So that is where the lines, “You won’t be living your own life. You’ll be trapped into making sure another person is living their life correctly,” come in to play. A lot of us don’t want to live our own life and make sure we are doing it correctly, because it is not near as much fun as watching and judging how someone else lives theirs.
As a matter of fact, making sure we are living our lives correctly is hard as hell. It is so much easier to look at what someone else does and say “I don’t do that,” than it is for us to say I should do this and I am going to make a disciplined effort to do it because it is the right thing to do for myself, my children and the world in which I live.
Maybe if more of us did that rather than pour another glass of wine and watch the latest train wreck on MTV, society would be a better place.
But then again, I am a person who desperately needs to make a disciplined effort to drag herself out of bed before 7:20a, force herself to exercise and do my very best not to teach my child a new cuss word every week. And those are just the logs in my eye I am willing to admit to here. I have an entire redwood forest to deal with that I would rather you not know anything about – which is why there are no camera crews at my house (well, that and I am an incredibly boring individual with the social life of Silas Marner).
So, while we all need entertainment and things to make us feel better about ourselves and our circumstances, I humbly propose that we watch the manner in which we derive that entertainment. It is human nature to look at others and pass judgment. It is a fault that we all have to varying degrees and something we cannot excise from our psyches or our society. If Matthew was chastising people about it in the 1st Century, it has been with us for a while now and my suspicion is that it is not going anywhere.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot make progress, right? Do we really have to center an entire TV industry in on promoting it? Does it have to take over everything? Even the History Channel? Can we just live our own lives and do our best to make sure we are living that life as good as we can every day? And for God sakes, can we please get Snooki, Kate and Kim off TV?
Oh, and before any religious conservatives of any stripe start thinking I am singing their tune, think again. In my experience those are the nosiest and most judgment passing group on the face of the planet and they would do well to keep their own moral code before trying to impose it on others.