Amsterdam - The planned airing of a game show in which a terminally ill woman will choose someone to receive her kidneys has stirred up controversy in the Netherlands and caused outrage internationally.
I don't know what's creepier, the Big Donor Show referenced above - or Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Do I really want to see how a member of KISS raises his children?
Long before Survivor, Dancing With the Stars, The Biggest Loser, The Apprentice, American Idol, The Bachelor, Temptation Island, Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, Fear Factor, Extreme Makover, The Osbournes, and a host of other reality TV shows, reality TV was already at the forefront of popular culture as introduced by the television medium.
Of course there were game shows. No, life is not lived in the tic-tac-toe world of Hollywood Squares, nor the harsh and sterile electronic set of The Weakest Link, but outside of a few controveries, the competition has been real, so they qualify as Reality TV. But game shows, popular as they are, aren't the ultimate form of R-TV. Not even close.
If you need a clue, I'll point out that you've probably been watching R-TV for a couple days and will continue to do so for a couple more weeks. (And if you're not, maybe you should be!) I'm not just referring to the Olympics but to sports in general. Sports on TV has been an enduring success from Friday Night Boxing to the Little League World Series to the NFL and that strange little experiment of an all sports network called ESPN that has multiplied itself into at least 15 television networks, 10 internet networks, and another 3 radio networks.
What defines R-TV?
2. real events
3. an uncertain outcome
Sure, R-TV manufactures outrageous and sometimes highly abnormal situations and locations to create voyeur ... I mean viewer interest, but what makes them universally appealing is that the participant's actions and emotions determine the outcome.
What has been more compelling than sports? And the Olympics have often been the greatest stage of all.
Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in front of the Fuhrer, refuting the notion of Aryan Supremacy ... Mark Spitz not just swimming to 7 gold medals, but breaking 7 world records ... Al Michaels shouting, "Do you believe in miracles?" as a team of no-name kids repelled Russia's Big Red Machine in hockey ...
Not all the stories have ended the way "we" wanted them to. But that's the point. The catchphrase of the long running ABC Wild World of Sports said it all: the thrill of victory ... the agony of defeat. What's more real than that? That's reality even without the TV!