Amusing Ourselves with Dreck: Neil Postman & Post-Modern Entertainment

“Reality is the new fiction they say
Truth is truer in these days, truth is man-made
If you’re here cause you want to be entertained
Please go away, you can go away”

-“Entertain”, Sleater-Kinney 

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Adams K. I D E A #1. 2007. Web. 20 June. 2015.

Since about the age of 16, I’ve had a terrible secret. I suppose, in the annals of terrible secrets, it’s really not so bad, but I’ve found myself staying up late at night to avoid the judgement of other human eyes, to indulge covertly and religiously. In the past, I’ve read pages and pages of message boards in the hopes of getting some keen new insight. I’ve even lied shamelessly in the midst of public conversation when someone lambasts the latest addition to the television screen, asking me “Have you watched it?”

My zeal for reality television has certainly waned in the last few years, but there was a time when the answer to the question of which new bad reality show I’d watched was always – on the inside – an apologetic yes. Though I only watch one (or two…) of the Real Housewives franchises today, there are so many things on now that make me feel guilty about ever watching this kind of programming at all. Like, for example, the mass of cat videos that reality television seems to have been a precursor to.

I have to say, I’ve never felt particularly dumb watching Real Housewives. That might seem stupid given the subject matter, but a Real Housewives episode has context, and relationship development and destruction. There is a progression of sorts, however decadent, that makes it akin to life or storytelling. With the cat videos and dog videos and screaming kid videos, I feel persistently aware of the fact that I’m supposed to respond only on the most basic level, again and again and again – it’s cute, it’s awful, it’s instant, I’m entertained!

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