There’s nothing real in reality until someone loses a life
Aug 19, 2011- Permalink
We may never know all the reasons why Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Russell Armstrong committed suicide this week, but surely the stresses of living in a reality TV bubble had something to do with it.
Some people tend to think that reality television gives them an insider’s peek into a life that they’re not leading, whether it’s the Gucci bags and endless parties of the Real Housewives franchise or the melanoma-seeking syphilitic fantasies of the Jersey Shore cast.
Let’s get this straight: there’s nothing real about reality. The facade crumbles when you realize that Survivor producer Mark Burnett had to cop to reshooting competition scenes with doubles to get better shots or that socialites Nicole and Paris would reshoot scenes for their The Simple Life series.
You might think that Family Jewels gives you an insight into the life of rock god Gene Simmons. That show’s as close to being a sitcom as reality can get. When you see a shot of Gene being woken up from his sleep to answer an emergency call from Nick at night do you really think a cameraman, boom operator, and production assistant were camped out all night at the foot of his bed in case something happened? When his SUV breaks down in the middle of the desert and he frantically tries to find a ride to Las Vegas for an important concert, why doesn’t Gene get into the camera vehicle rather than waiting for Carrot Top to show up?
The one thing that’s real about reality is the stress it can have on someone’s real life. I can play a millionaire jetsetter on a weekly show (I’m open to offers) but at night I’d just be an actor going home to some rented house in the hills. In reality shows, if I lead an extravagant life there’s an immense pressure to keep up the expensive lifestyle in case the viewers see behind the curtain and get disillusioned that the show isn’t “real.” So reality stars can end up living first class lives on a coach class budget.
Then there’s the psychological stress of producers taking real — or what passes for real — moments and amping them up for the camera. Gene Simmons sobs he’s an idiot as he crouches by the grave of his estranged father in Israel. Tori Spelling may throw a fancy first birthday party for her kids, but video recollections of those moments include her sobbing to husband Dean McDermott about her then-sour relationship with their grandmother. Good times! Those are real feelings but people are taking their emotions and pimping them out, dressing them up in stockings and stilettos, and making them work on the streets.
It’s a dangerous path when your reality life is mixed in with your real life. When the new season of Kat Von D’s LA Ink was about to premiere, she announced that her recent engagement to Jesse James was off. Within hours of TLC cancelling the show, the engagement was back on. Yeah, right, they really broke up.
That’s the real damage of reality shows. While the stars are stressing out to the point of suicide we’re also turning into a community of skeptics. At least back in the day when Alexis and Krsytle would cat-fight on Dynasty the audiences knew they were munching cookies at the craft services table between takes.blog comments powered by Disqus