The Realness And The Rubbish

The Realness And The Rubbish

What reality TV offers its audience
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I watch a lot of reality TV.

Most people’s immediate mental image when reality TV is brought up is mind-numbing Kardashian Jersey Bachelor Teenage Pregnancy cultural slime that is dumbing America down one “unscripted” episode at a time. I share this same disdain towards a lot of the shows that dominate Bravo, MTV, and ABC (especially the white hetero-pile of toxic sludge that is “The Bachelor”) but with a lot of these shows I find myself unapologetically, sometimes regretfully sucked in.

Our modern concept of “reality television” didn’t really exist in America until 1992 when people stopped being polite and started getting real on “The Real World” where seven strangers were picked to live in a loft in New York City: today, 25 years later, it is inescapable. In my twenty years of experience consuming media I have learned that reality TV is one of the easiest ways to connect with people. In the fifth grade I remember discussing “American Idol” with my science teacher and my classmates like it was a religion. In junior high “The Glee Project” capitalized off of adolescents’ obsession with Finn Hudson and high school glee clubs. Today, on “Bachelor” nights groups of girls congregate in dorm common spaces with TVs across my university’s campus. In my own world “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is practically the fabric of mine and other fanatics’ lives. The day after a queen is eliminated I am either in mourning or praying for my favorite’s numbered days in the competition. I remember when I was young there was a cartoon called “Total Drama Island” that was a faux-reality parody of shows like “Survivor” that my friends and I were absolutely obsessed with. I’m still traumatized by the memory of my parents telling me I couldn’t watch anymore because it was too mature for my age.

These reality shows (one merely a parody of reality) have quietly (or not so quietly) influenced me and Americans for years and I’m trying to work through the thoughts surrounding this controversial subject. Many agree that reality TV is frivolous, fluff, lacking any real substance. It’s where the thin, the white, and the heterosexual go to drink, debauch, and embarrass themselves with each ridiculous fight. Most of the TV shows we know have been proven to be fake, unreal, tearing down the edifice that reality TV has built up.

But I love it.

I can’t get enough of it.

Most of the TV I watch and actually keep up with is reality, past and current. The more I watch of it, I realize that a lot of it is filth. So unimportant, so uninspiring, so unartistic, but I can’t stop watching. I’ve realized, though, that it’s because reality TV isn’t a sprint, but a marathon. There’s so much of it that you have to sift through to find the gems worth your attention. In a normal TV show there’s only so much room for boring air time, footage without purpose; everything is deliberate, while reality isn’t supposed to be. Real life isn’t exciting 24/7: it can get messy, it can often seem pointless. But you need to sit through most of it to get to the good stuff, just like with reality TV.

How many episodes of “The Hills” did I have to sit through to get to that single, mascaraed tear that falls down Lauren Conrad’s cheek (“You know why I’m mad at you, you know what you did!”)? Countless seasons of “The Real World” were watched to see that guy slap Irene in Seattle after she outted him. Kim K losing her diamond earring in the ocean and crying has reached peak memedom (“Kim, there’s people that are dying.”) The night Taylor Hicks snatched the crown off of American sweetheart Katharine McPhee’s precious head on “American Idol” would go down in history as The Day the Music Died. And then there’s that guy from “Survivor” who lied about his freaking grandmother dying just to not get voted off the island.

So, I’d like to validate the hours I spend watching twenty somethings get into yet another drunken fight or the parents with way too many children or a Hilton sister milk a cow with the thought that I am waiting. Waiting for that culturally defining moment that I’ll have seen first hand and not after being recycled into a tweet or a meme.

I also hold out hope that these shows are actually real, or at least hold onto some thin shred of reality. I’d like to think that in the finale of “The Hills” when the camera pans away from Brody Jenner to reveal a soundstage, implying that none of the past six seasons were actually real, that this was just an artistic choice, not telling of the actual scriptedness of the show. We’ll never know for sure whether “Laguna Beach” was the real Orange County or just the fake one, so for now all I can do is hope.

Cover Image Credit: unspalsh

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To The Girl Who Still Has Her Mom This Christmas

To the girl with who is blessed enough to have her momma this Christmas. 
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     To the girl who is blessed enough to have her momma this Christmas, please remember to soak every last bit of it in. 

      Please remember to hug her so tight, that the way she smells is locked into your nose. Listen to all the stories you've heard a million times, like you've never heard a single one. Help her, even if it seems completely silly to you, help her mix that cake. Laugh, oh please laugh. Laugh at all her corky ways, at the way she mispronounces words, try's to be hip and use new found lingo, or how she cusses when she forgot to get the rolls out of the oven but quickly asks the Lord for forgiveness. Remember her laugh, etch it into your brain. Make her happy, if she wants to go riding around looking at Christmas lights down the same streets you've went for years, do it. Don't fuss, take her advice, agree to just disagree on things. It's not worth it. Most importantly, remind her over and over how much you love her. 

     Because unlike you, I'm not able to see my mom on Christmas. I'm not able to see her on birthdays, Thanksgiving, or any other occasion. My time with her is up. Death is the most permanent heartbreak. 

     How I long to hear her voice, her laugh. To feel her tight embrace. Smell, oh god, what I would give to just be able to smell her. I would absolutely love to go riding around for hours while she ohhs and ahhs at every single house we pass. If I had the opportunity I'd tell her just how much I love her, how I'm so thankful for all the sacrifices she made for me. In fact, I'm not sure I could ever tell her enough. 

      Some days I wake up and it still doesn't feel real. Others, I panic trying to remember exactly how she sounded. Because, I don't want to forget. I don't want to forget a single characteristic about her. Not one. 

     Take time, not just on holidays, or special occasions to be with your mom. Even if it's just you two piled up watching reruns of "The Little House on the Prairie", soak it in. 

    You only get one momma. Nobody could ever take her place. She's your rock. 

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25 Moments Of 'A Christmas Story' You Remember While Watching It 10 Times In A Row On Christmas

"You'll shoot your eye out, kid."

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Let's be real, you can't go through the holiday season without watching "A Christmas Story." It's a classic. I have to watch it at least once around Christmastime. Since it's iconic, it's very easy to remember everything that goes on throughout the film. Here are twenty five of the most memorable moments of the movie.

1. When poor Randy had to bundled up EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. 

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2. And in turn caused a huge problem. 

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3. Oh, and another problem. 

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4. When Ralphie dropped the F-Bomb in front of his father. He didn't say "fudge." 

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5. And he received the classic soap bar punishment. 

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6. When Swartz was persistent on getting what he wanted.

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7. When we realized Ralphie's father had never seen the word "fragile." 

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8. When Ralphie's mother was determined to keep her husband unhappy. 

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9. The one killjoy phrase quoted more than once. 

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10. When Ralphie got ripped off. 

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11. When Randy was picking at his food. 

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12. And his mother insisted on showing her how the piggies ate. 

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13. When the mall Santa got too close and personal. 

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14. Only to be a jerk in the end. 

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15. Let's not forget what Ralphie desperately wanted for Christmas. 

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16. When poor Flick was left to suffer on that pole. 

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17. When the family was forced to eat at a Chinese restaurant after their turkey was ruined. 

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18. And it was devoured by the neighbor's annoying hound dogs. 

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19. When Ralphie and his friends had to deal with this douchebag every time they left their houses. 

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20. It's okay, though. Ralphie eventually decides not to put up with it. 

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21. And let's not forget the pink nightmare Ralphie was given. 

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22. Ralphie's daydreams were interesting, too. 

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23. But some of them were weird. 

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24. When the Red Ryder BB gun ended up being a hazard after all. 

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25. Who am I kidding? The whole movie is memorable. 

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