How far is too far? Naked reality TV

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By Tress Eckermann – Contributor

It seems that these days nothing is sacred. Anyone who’s viewed MTV’s hit show “Jersey

Shore” can tell you that. After near constant badgering from my cousins, I turned on that show.

After about five minutes it felt like my brain was melting out of my ears.

   To tell you the truth, it’s not even the way that these people on the show act that bothers me;

it’s the way that people clamor about the show and those like it. I’m not being arrogant here,

though. I am, after all, a regular viewer of Bravo’s guiltiest pleasure, “The Real Housewives of

Atlanta.”

   There’s a new reality series called “Nak’d Truth.” It is, as you probably guessed from the

title, a naked reality show. Because of overwhelming response from the media, the producers

have decided to stream the casting selection live over the Internet where Internet viewers will

then be allowed to vote for who they think should be cast on the show.

   I’m 22, and I’ve heard the argument made that people of my generation are desensitized to

sexuality because we have been bombarded with it most of our lives. Maybe that’s right, and

maybe that’s why the idea of this show in general doesn’t really bother me. I’ve always been of

the opinion that if something bothers you, then simply change the channel. That’s what I’ve

always done. “Jersey Shore” makes me nauseous? I pick up the remote. “Keeping Up With the

Kardashians” makes me depressed? I flip it over to something that doesn’t make me want to

jump off a very high building.

   The idea that the people on these shows are celebrities also bothers me. Recently, it was

released that Snooki Polizzi from “Jersey Shore” makes more money than Jon Hamm. That’s

right. The guy who is on television’s biggest drama, “Mad Men,” a show that nabbed seventeen

Emmy nominations last August, makes less money than someone named Snooki.

   Actor Joaquin Phoenix made headlines last year when he announced that he was retiring from

acting at age 35 to pursue a rap career. When “I’m Still Here,” a “documentary” showing his

journey, was released almost a year later, he and director Casey Affleck announced it was all a

hoax and Phoenix went on David Letterman’s show to tell the world that it wasn’t real. He said

he had become fascinated by the idea that reality stars are being portrayed as just that – stars.

Why is that? Because they use their real names and do stupid things. In a weird way, I actually

admired Phoenix more. Here’s a guy with a really amazing film career who puts it all on the line

to make a point. Why are reality stars now our stars?  

   I’m a movie fan, and I’ve always respected actors because of their work ethic and the art that

they produce. The idea that actors of Phoenix’s caliber are even being mentioned in the same

sentence as people such as Kim Kardashian is frankly quite disturbing. He’s famous for making

really extraordinary movies: films that can be looked at as an achievement.

What’s Kardashian famous for? A big butt and a sex tape. But I guess that’s why that phrase

“sex sells” is so relevant today.   

   I’m sure “Nak’d Truth” will be a big hit, and I’m sure that it will give Joel McHale some

great fodder for “The Soup.” It might lessen the sting that a show such as “Nak’d Truth” made it

on TV, but it’s also a double-edged sword. Part of me says, fine, “Put the show on TV. I’m not

going to watch it.”

   Then, of course, there is a tiny part of me that says certain shows of much higher value have

been canceled, and then shows such as this take their place on the air. I’m still mourning the loss

of “Arrested Development.” No big deal though, because here comes “Nak’d Truth” to ease my

pain.

   I’m not telling everyone to stop watching the “Jersey Shore.” All I’m saying is that I just

want a little mystery back. My friends and family make fun of me and say that I’m an old lady.

Perhaps that’s true, but I don’t find Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino or a bunch of sweaty,

desperate, naked people trying out for a third-rate reality show sexy.

 Maybe my friends are right about me, but that kind of quiet sexuality of watching Lauren Bacall

and Humphrey Bogart in “To Have and Have Not” is something that I yearn for in modern

media. Watching Lauren Bacall ask Humphrey Bogart (both fully clothed) if he knows how to

whistle makes me really appreciate and enjoy entertainment. I can only wonder: how will

watching a bunch of desperate people simply walk around in the nude be enjoyable at all?

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