Opinion: Discovering the realities of “Reality TV”

Mike Richards is a senior English major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Mike Richards

I consider myself a people-watcher. That might sound strange, but I find myself as someone who enjoys seeing the social interactions of people rather than being the center of attention. We’re all interesting people, but when the line between privacy and public is crossed, that’s when things begin to go awry.

It recently surfaced that Mama June of the show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” has been seeing an ex-boyfriend. The eyebrow-raising piece to this is that the man is a convicted child molester. The part where you rip your hair out is when you discover that the child molested was her own child. As a result, TLC decided to can the reality show centered on her family due to these allegations.

This is where being private and being public becomes a problem. And it’s rather sad that they no longer have a choice in the matter.

We — as a society — are completely enamored with and enveloped in pop culture. We are influenced by everything that is shown to us, especially through the countless screens we stare at each and every day. There is something about watching other people’s lives exposed and exploited before us that we just find so intriguing. Maybe it’s the idea of watching the lives of reasonably different and sometimes damaged people that we can’t resist.

And now these people are puppets performing for our own entertainment.

Let me be clear that I do not condone the actions of Mama June, and I wholeheartedly side with TLC in the dilemma. But the issue now is that this family’s collapse is reaching national, potentially worldwide news, taking precedent over stories that actually matter. When I turn on CNN or visit its website, I should expect to see stories on national issues probably related to Ebola, ISIS or the status of our government with the upcoming midterm elections. There is coverage, don’t get me wrong, but this is what I would call a distraction story, as I cannot consider this a human interest story anymore because it delves back into exploitation rather than finding a solution.

It is a disgusting story, but it’s only getting coverage because seeing the collapse of people whose lives are engulfed by the lens of a camera is, again, exciting for us.

There are some things in life meant to remain private, no matter the situation. It is for those people to hash out the issues in their lives, potentially with some intervening, but a barrage of flashing lights and unanswerable questions does not solve anything.

Until a line is drawn between private and public, we will continue to bypass issues that can affect our society as a whole, instead of a family we exploited for our own amusement.