Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dreaming of Reality TV

 I dreamt I was at a college dinner, one of those that they might serve to get everyone acquainted with the college at an orientation.  I was sitting at a table with all these other people, most of which were very odd, and there were television cameras all over the place, above and in the corners.  It was perfectly normal, except, I knew that the people I sat with had various psychological disorders, ones that would not get along well without medicine...etc... After a time I left the room and found myself in a large television studio, a place with large "habitats" where people were going about their daily lives, except with cameras everywhere.  Sorta like The Truman Show, except this one had an odd twist to it.  The characters in these stories were picked from mental institutions, facilities, along with normal people, all in an attempt to make a Reality TV show where the people in the situations were just a little more odd than normal, and watch the madness unfold.

I remember while I was working at Borders, that we had a running joke (at least, my coworkers did prior to me working there), that we were unwittingly a part of a Japanese Reality TV show called Happy Booktime Go!, where the strange customers and the strange employees interacted and provided hilarity for the viewers. It made sense, as some of our customers were indeed very strange.

But in my dream, they had more control over the people.  People were taken from one scenario to another, their memories wiped and replaced with alternative ones to match the theme.  Those that were boring or lost ratings were eliminated... as I saw people with machine guns around, for that purpose.  It was built into the show as a terror plot, or a bank robbery, or something like that.

Yes, it was a strange dream, one that I had prior to waking up, which is when I have the strange ones I remember, right before I wake up totally, coming out of the final sleep cycle.  It got me to thinking though.  All our television shows, whether they're actually called "Reality TV" or not, are similar to this. People watch Gotham or Modern Family, and they are just interactions between very odd people, some that deal in gruesome murders, some not.  Some have outrageous violence and sex, some don't. Some make commentaries on society using stereotypes (which may be true or contrived), and some are just made to humiliate people.  I don't honestly think that Chris Rocker is going to become any more loved after his stint on Survivor than what he was before.  He is societies' Joker, made up to be laughed at and scorned, to make everyone feel a little better.  We are better than him, at least.  Push your scarecrows over, and feel better about our lives.  I mean, we all lead lives that may or may not be difficult, but we can all be assured that the side show mentality of the television shows will pick people who are living much worse lives than we are, and it makes us feel good.

So why not pick those people out of the crazy farms, the looney bins, the Mental Hospitals, and put them in a place where they can entertain the rest of us.  There are enough of them, even in the smallest towns, that we would never run out of stooges to laugh at.  So what if they like running down the street naked with a lamp shade on their head... that's funny!! At least we're not like that!

It can easily go that way, you know.  The normal life is no longer appreciated.  Those that live comfortable lives want to see the way others live, so we can laugh at them and scorn their ways. We watch Hoarders or 16 and Pregnant and feel badly for them, even as we laugh at their misfortunes. And we turn the TV off (if indeed it ever goes off) and feel better about ourselves.  It's either that, or take medicine, and the other way is cheaper, and more fun.

I haven't watched much television since moving to Dallas, except for Football on weekends, and even then, I could listen to it on the radio just as well.  I love the Simon & Garfunkel line from "The Only Living Boy in New York," "I get the news I need on the weather report."  It's what I worry about the most, if I got rid of television and cable and everything all together.  I wouldn't have that outlet for looking at storms as they come in.  Sure, I can use the radio and the radar on the Internet which I can read as well as any meteorologist can, but the reassurance of the TV Weather Guy is something that has been coded into me since I was a wee child watching Gary England on CBS in Oklahoma City. So I think I'm going to dump cable, keep the Internet, and then hopefully by the Spring, I'll have an antenna strong enough to pick up the channels on the south side of Dallas (all the towers are in Cedar Hill, and Downtown Dallas is between me and them).  Until then, I'm going to unplug this thing and use it for computer games and other escapes from reality.

I have no problem escaping from reality, but I want to do it without making fun of other people.  I would rather do it with books, Audio or otherwise, and put the images in my head, instead of on my screen.

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