Dick Hall of Fame Entry #10: Charlie Parsons

2 Jan

Who?  Not sure who that is?  It’s a new year and this is the best that you can do?  This man cannot be a hall of famer.  Hold your horses.  This man may toil in anonymity but his work speaks for itself.  This is the man who originally created the show known as Survivor.  He is the man who helped the resurgence of reality television to the point where it dominates pretty much every channel.  Yes, reality television.  The drivel that involves fighting and ridiciulous stereotypes.  To be clear I am NOT blaming him for the creation of reality television.  I am blaming him for creating a show that changed the definition of “reality” television.  The success of this genre which has watered down our programming and minds.  The reason that we have people known as the Situation and Snooki.  The reason that superficial stupidity can be a path to celebrity.

First, we need clear up what reality television was and is.  It  originally started with a show called Candid Camera back in the 1940’s.  The show’s purpose was to create an odd situation to secretly record “candid” reactions from real people.  The format was simple.  Create an unusual situation to record the real reactions that people would have.  On face value this seems like a great idea.  Many of us would like to see how we would react to being put in a house with people from different backgrounds or in a dealership where they break our car and try to tell you it’s fixed.  The Real World has shown us real people and raised attention to many overarching social issues.  But then the formula started to move more towards drama.

Like forced Gilligan's Island

Charlie Parsons created a show known as Survivor which really started to change the game for reality television.  His show collected a group of “everyday” (I’m doing my best to contain my skepticism and contempt) people and pitted them against each other in challenges to eventually vote each other off until one person was named the Survivor.  That person would receive a cash prize for their actions and received recoginition and commendation for the show.  It forced people to undercut each other and make deals to eventually become the chosen one.  Now, the first reaction should be…This isn’t reality.  How often will we find ourselves trapped on a desert island where we are forced to compete against other people in demeaning activities?  Not very often.  But the show became successful and sparked many off shoots as well as other reality shows.  It also make people hungry for more unrealistic drama and more interesting/complex situations.

This one is too easy

American Idol, Big Brother, Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of (insert rich affluent area here).  This is the result of that initial show.  What I have always asked..how is there so much drama in these shows?  Not saying real people aren’t dramatic, but the odds of this number of volatile personalities being put in the same room at the same time is slim.  Oh right.  They CAST these people.  The difference between applying and casting is that you have a desired role that they are trying to fill.  You are saying, “Hey we should hire a divisive douche because they will ultimately fight with anyone around them.”  I’m sorry but is that reality?  No.  Plus with the success of many of these “actors”, there is an incentive to act like a ridiculous person just to get the celebrity that comes with it.

And this comes to another one of my points.  How can this be reality if you know you’re on camera? When someone points a camera at me, my first reaction is to flee because cameras steal your soul.  But I usually fake my emotions to portray a more positive individual.  If I consider my actions that much when a camera is pointed at me, I’m sure some attention starved/self absorbed person will absolutely act a certain way to garner more attention from the camera.

The most confusing "celebrity" ever

This spawned the reality movement and has raised attention from other networks because of the money they can make coupled with the relatively low cost of renting a house and filling it with cameras.  The point is, none of this is real.   While there may not be a script (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt), this is anything but reality.  Thanks to shows like the Jersey Shore, people have changed their feelings about the dumbest accent.  GTL (Gym Tan Laundry) is on the cusp of being added to our dictionary.  We have added dumb things to the dictionary before but the fact that this is even an accepted term enrages and saddens me.  These shows offer no educational benefit and only serve to make us appear as unintelligent as our country is becoming.  If you want to see affluent rich women fight over who is hotter, see people wait in line for 2 days to sing poorly, or like to see Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff comment on people’s attempts to display questionable talents; we do not want you reading this blog.  You are the people who frustrate us so much.

While I accept that many people don’t like to watch the shows I like to watch, I feel like there is no defending these shows.  Charlie Parsons started the boulder rolling down the hill from Survivor to the Jersey Shore.   This gives us no choice but to say that this person is a dick for creating an idea that fakes reality and gives us a superficial television genre that offers no benefit to society or the viewers.  While this may not have been the intent of  Charlie.  It is the result.  We have no choice but to record his actions because they have clearly altered our society for the worse.


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