I just don’t know why anyone needs reality TV which is not real at all, but sets up situations that must conform to unreal constructs. These shows seem to present reality, but we all understand that the situations and circumstances are not reality. As soon as you put someone in front of a camera it affects the person being filmed and the way s/he acts and reacts. Hidden cameras may capture reality but I don’t think it is considered quite kosher to use a hidden camera unless you eventually tell your subject that s/he is being filmed.
I guess that’s why I am fascinated by CNN. CNN is not a reality show, but the things we are told about on CNN are usually actual events happening in the world and may have (probably will have) some effect on our lives. Now I know these news people go on and on ad infinitum, discussing an event over and over, reporting it, then commenting on it, then getting “experts” to comment on it, then getting regular people to comment on it, sometimes presenting charts and graphs about it. It is sometimes repetitive and sometimes frustrating and sometimes just plain boring, but everything these people talk about is someone’s reality and it is startling to be “present” when world events actually happen.
Today I was, as usual, watching CNN and I had sort of tuned out mentally. When I tuned back in the camera was on a reporter in Afghanistan travelling around with a camera team and a translator. He had 8×10 photos of the attack on the World Trade Center, with smoke pouring out of the Manhattan buildings and he was asking the Afghani’s if they had any idea what they were seeing in the pictures. The people he spoke to knew nothing about 9/11 or the attacks on the twin towers. They knew nothing about the number of people who died there. They did not really know what we mean when we talk about the Taliban. To them, they said, the Taliban just means “bad men”. I guess I mistakenly imagine that people in the Afghanistan countryside come back from taking care of their sheep or tending their fields or whatever lifestyle they pursue to enable them to live, and turn on their TV’s and watch CNN. Once again I see how unrealistic I am about the way people live in various places around the world. These rural people may not even have electricity, they may not have a radio, NYC is way off their radar, and their lifestyles are often simpler than we would be comfortable with. How would they know about 9/11?
Then CNN asked the reporter in Afghanistan why the Afghani people thought we were there, in their country. I would have loved to hear the answer to that question, but the reporter said they would have to ask that one in the future. They have never asked that yet. My naiveté about other cultures keeps cropping up lately, just as when I did not realize that some Muslim women might not be excited about giving up their burqas. I’ll keep working on it, trying to become a more sophisticated citizen of the world (without leaving my office, of course, because I hate travelling). Meanwhile I feel nervous when CNN is not being broadcast somewhere in my vicinity.