Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Brat Camp

There's been minor rumbling about "angry punk" Isaiah this week, who was arrested for admitting to tagging up a preschool teacher's house with racial slurs. I was about to say something glib about the situation, but then a sheriff starts indicting reality tv:

"Reality TV has taken the place of long-term rehabilitation," Pazin said. "These kids had some real serious issues that needed to be dealt with in a long-term process, not a multiweek TV program for entertainment."

To make the obvious rebuttal: SageWalk is not a reality show; on the other hand, Brat Camp is a reality show, one that happens to use SageWalk as its content. The SageWalk program itself is about rehabilitating kids, not entertaining tv watchers; it just so happens that a bunch of tv producers have presented SageWalk in an entertainment form. As for the charge of not being "long-term" enough, according to the official ABC website for Brat Camp, lasted at least fifty days, which, in consideration with what I remember hearing from the first episode, is approximately the minimum amount of time that kids spend at SageWalk. So if the sheriff has a problem with those fifty days, he'd be more effective taking it up with SageWalk than the fine institution of reality tv.

While the sheriff's objections are easily addressed (and, in bothering to even dispute them involuntarily validates them when they are baseless), his attitude of blaming Brat Camp the show (or conflating SageWalk and Brat Camp without distinguishing the two sufficiently) suggests that on a wider scale, people will tend to blame reality tv for various social ills. Without claiming that reality tv makes its viewers smarter (as Steven Johnson does in Everything Bad Is Good for You -- which I intend to review ON THIS VERY BLOG, sometime in the future -- attitudes like the sheriff's seem to amount to classic media-bashing. Before reality tv, it was video games, and before video games, it was, I don't know, I'm not that old, punk rock I suppose. New media forms are often an easy target for people who fundamentally believe in some kind of a simple corrective (although the sheriff makes mention of needing more than fifty days to rehabilitate kids, he's implicitly arguing that if society spent less time making reality programs, then it could have more time socializing kids properly). He seems to suggest that if we got rid of reality tv, things would be noticeably better.

I leave it to you to evaluate the validity of such a belief.

Indie rating: Sex Pistols - "Anarchy in the U.K."

1 comment:

guile said...

nice, cozy place you got here :)..