Monday, February 28, 2011

Why Do We Watch?

As I was looking around for info to blog about today, i ran across this interview with comedian Adam Carolla. Carolla's talking about Piers Morgan (who took over Larry King's interviewing show) and why people expected him to be good at his job. In the middle of Carolla's rant, he hinted at something i've always wondered about. Why do we care about people like The Kardashians, The Real Housewives, or any other reality TV people. If you talk to anybody on the street, they express their disgust and disdain towards these stars. Still, their ratings are big enough that they come back every season. Carolla suggests it is because we, as a society, are voyeurs and that we are so narcissistic that we enjoy watching other's own narcissism. Watch Carolla's comments by clicking here (note there is some harsh language). Do you agree with Carolla? Do we envy these people? Do we secretly wish to be as spotlighted as them? Why do we watch these reality shows?


14 comments:

lisahenry said...

Interestingly enough, I do agree with Carolla. I do believe that we, as a society, are voyeuristic. Most of the line-up on television consists of reality programs. What I really find ironic is that I'm one of those people that are always joking about just how ridiculous they are and yet, I've found myself flipping through the channels and mindlessly sitting there watching one of them. I feel that they have become our modern soap operas. We become mesmerized by the people and want to see how things turn out in their lives. They "seem" less scripted and many appear to be living normal lives. I think part of the fascination comes from escaping from our own frustrations in life for awhile while we get absorbed in the exciting lives of someone else.

I would definitely agree that we, as a society, usually envy these people partly because they always seem to come out on top...I mean, they must be doing something right because they are already on television. Right? I really did find the whole narcissistic idea to be very interesting because that isn't a concept that I have actually thought of before but he could have something there. I do think that we all probably secretly wish that we could be spotlighted they way that the reality stars are although this is not something that I had seriously contemplated before this blog.

DSEELEY said...

Another interesting topic, I use to watch Larry King becasue of his interview style. When Piers Morgan took over I stopped watching. I am not a fan of reality television so shows like Survivor and the Kardashians do not intrest me. In watching the interview with Adam Carolla and I agree that society is a bunch of voyeurs who enjoy watching what they wish they could be. We enjoy watching ourselves thru other people and wishing it was us. There are people in society that do envey the people of reality television and wish that they could be spotlighted as they are, or is it that they are just envious of them. When you ask someone on the street if they watch reality television they might express their discused of the show in public but when they get home its the first thing on their television.

JG Hanks said...

I typed an entire three paragraph response and Blogger ate it. I will do my best to reconstruct it.

Although Spokane's former mayor Jim West was not a reality star, we can use his personal life being thrust into the public as an example of what type of attention reality stars crave. They love the money, fame and notoriety more than they do their own privacy. We as a society can do nothing more than watch it unfold. And we do so by the millions. Reality television programmers know of our voyeuristic and narcissistic tendencies and they use these traits to program television we can't help but watch. When I ask my wife how she can watch such shows, she always replies, "It's like watching a train wreck. I just can't look away." This statement simply explains our society's fascination with other people's lives. We are just as interested in watching someone triumph over adversity as we are to watch someone on the top fail.

I do not envy these people at all. I value my personal life and its privacy. In the age of technology, it's becoming more and more difficult to allow yourself any privacy at all so for someone to intentionally put themselves in a position to have their lives picked apart willingly, as reality stars do, seems insane to me. It would be wonderful to have the money that some of them attain, but at what price? The trade off to me is not worth it.

I believe the ratings system needs to be adjusted so that more of the population is counted in regards to programming. The Nielsen ratings system does not account for internet viewing nor TiVo (along with many other viewing choices we are afforded in this day and age) as far as I know, so the ratings system is flawed in this respect. There has to be some explenation for how these shows keep getting made other than the fact that so many people are watching. How many nanny reality shows or shows about cops lives can there be on at one time?

dgarrard said...

We are absolutely voyeuristic in nature. This is something that we as a society have evolved into. If you look at the TV shows that we used to watch 20 or even 10 years ago and compare them with the countless reality shows that are on TV now it is appalling. The shows now are spin-offs of other shows that spin-off of other shows; it is difficult to determine how we got here. I am not sure where exactly our fascination is stemming from. Perhaps we are subconsciously giving up our own dreams of fame and fortune and are instead living out these fantasies through the celebrities on TV. Some people will even go so far as to mirror themselves after these people.

The biggest reason that we watch these shows is that we can't wait to see what these individuals will do next. What crazy antics are just around the corner. Unless we, as a society, stop watching these shows and expressing such regard for the nature of the "celebrities" then the cycle will continue to perpetuate itself. There will not stop being reality shows on TV unless we, the public, stop it.

Sasha said...

I really love this topic. I think Carolla is right. We watch these reality shows because in some sense we want to be like them or we can relate to them.
I know i have tuned into some reality shows because i love to see the dirt these people carry around.
we are always looking for things to talk about especially when it is negative.
Also, i think we tune in to tv shows such as the Kardashians to check out things like fashion and style. Its sort of like lets see what they are wearing today.
These celebrities love to be on the spotlight and i have always wanted to be in the spotlight, so when i watch shows like this, i sometimes wish i could be a part of the tv world. i love to act and again i can relate to some reality shows. The only negative thing i have to say about reality shows is that they sometime seem to be staged. its like..... camera on... camera off.

CLiddell said...

I totally agree with Carolla. I believe also that many watch these reality shows because deep down many wish that could be them. The people that are on these shows are everyday people and I guess many people see that being a chance that they could be in the spotlight as those stars are. Also, I think many watch the shows because these type of shows present dama. That seems like the hottest thing. Drama/conflict everyone wants to see a good fight whether they would like to admit or not. Thats seems to be what is fueling the fire. A good fight at the end or the beginning of a reality show keeps the audience waiting and watching.

Brandon L. Atkison said...

I like Adam Carolla’s comments. It is funny to see Larry King telling Piers Morgan that he expected more from him becoming the new host. It is even funnier that Piers Morgan thinks he is even good. I think we as a society have become obsessed with these famous celebrities reality shows because it takes us away from our real lives for a brief amount of time. We either fantasize about their lives or make fun of them. Either way we tune in every week just to see what happens next. These reality stars think they are liked by everyone, for example Jersey Shore, and truthfully you do have some people who are obsessed with their every move. Others may tune in to see how stupid these people really are. I think the TV programs play a factor in heightening peoples own narcissism on the shows. I personally do not watch these reality shows because I find them dumb and childish.

MattDemp said...

I agree with Adam Carolla about as a society that we tend to put ourselves on tv to be famous and yet I do find some reality shows sometimes corny but yet entertaining for example admittedly enough I'm a fan of the kardashian reality show because I like to see them fall flat on their face.

JLafond said...

I agree with Carolla’s opinion on reality shows, and it certainly doesn’t surprise me that the ratings are so high. It seems like reality shows are on every channel at every hour nowadays. I remember when television actually aired scripted shows that were entertaining, not this ridiculous reality stuff. First, I’m not a fan of reality shows because they revolve around a cast doing stupid things.

I think that we are addicted to reality shows because these reality stars live a rich and famous life. Many people want to live the life that they live, so they are more addicted to those shows. However, reality shows like Survivor, people compete for the money and viewers watch to see people do ridiculous stunts. Hopefully reality shows will someday find their way off their air.

abuckhalter said...

Carolla has a very strong point. However, my schedule is so busy until I hardly have time to watch reality shows, but when time permits I will flip through the channels and watch them. Many people shape their schedule around their favorite reality show. Many time people meet different people but they find themselve being able to communicate because they both have interest in a particular reality shows.

I do not envy these type of people. However, I would love to own some of their homes and vechiles but I would never want the fame and headache that comes along with their job. I love my privacy!I feel that there a large number of people that do. I can go down my facebook friend list and they are bashing these people but they are continious watching these shows. Many people watch reality shows to try and imitate these people fashion and style. There are also some that watch it simply for entertainment and to be able to relate to others such as friends and co-workers.

Shelly said...

I agree that our society is obsessed with reality television. People find themselves glued to the television waiting for the next big drama series. I also agree that these have become the modern day soap opera for people who are not home during the day to watch soap operas. It drives people to stay tuned to see how the person on tv will handle a situation. It makes it more real to the viewer because the person on the screen is not acting by a script. I find this type of television series appalling. I do not watch reality tv and most of what is shown on the reality television series is pure filth.

I think that most people watch because they idolize the "celebrity" lifestyle and the freedom that is portrayed on the screen. The freedom that is shown on the screen helps people live out their youth through the television. People probably want to be in a position in their lives where they could experience the freedom that is shown on television.

I think that most people are searching for something. Something that will allow them to fulfill their desires and be released from their adult responsibilities. I do not wish to explore my freedom in such a way that is shown on tv. Television has a way of glorifying the situations on tv and it rarely shows the effects of the decisions made on those shows. Some of those decisions carry lifelong implications, which is why I do not find it entertaining.

Elle B. said...

I agree with lisahenry 100%. I was talking to someone about this a couple of months ago. Reality TV shows are the Generation Y's soap opera. We work around the times that the shows come one, watch them, and then complain about the foolishness that we have watched. There are definitely some people who envy characters in reality TV shows. Jersey Shore is a good example. The characters sleep around, party all night, and are famous for it. There are some who envy that lifestyle, but know that it won't work for them, so they watch these shows and "live vicariously" through the show.

There are some people who secretly want to live the lives that are portrayed in these shows, and it seems that the more some people watch it, the more they become like what they see. Trying to live a fabulous life when you don't have the fabulous money. I definitely agree that we watch these shows to escape from our real life problems in order to watch the lives of others who we, for some reason, envy. But of course that's for most people... not all.

BGibson said...

Personally I do agree with Carolla. I am a fan of some reality shows and I think that it is quite interesting that they are willing to put their lives before the world as a source of entertainment. However, the majority of the shows make me wonder how in the world they made it to television. Some of the reality shows come back season after season, which means they had to have tons of viewers to keep them in existence. I have never tuned in to The Kardashians, but have attempted to watch survivors. I usually tune into reality shows such as Keyshia Cole or Tiny and Toya. These shows usually end leaving you wondering whats going to happen next and with only 30 minute segments, you can not help but to prepare for the next episode.

I do not envy any of the people who use reality television as a way to make a living. I like the ability to be able to do things and nobody knows but me and a few others versus the world. My shows of choice no longer exist and it would not matter to me if they get rid of the rest of them.

candrews_4 said...

I do agree with Carolla. We do live in a society that is voyeuristic. Now and days everything on television has to do with some time of reality show, no matter what it is. Most of this stuff is scripted and it just not a coincidence. These people are wiling to aire their lives on television and we do watch. Its mostly about drama. Sad to say, drama sales. People want to watch something that is interesting. They are the real soap operas and act a little better.

Some of us do watch because we want to be in that life style that they are in. I am actually kind of tired of all the realty shows. Where are the real shows? Everybody has a reality show, I could come out with a reality show if I wanted to. Sometimes their is nothing else to watch.