I finished reading The Hunger Games this week. The plot involves teenagers trying to stay alive in a government established reality show. The kids have to fight each other to the death, so it’s got an anti-reality TV message to it. That was a criticism of reality TV game shows when they first came out: things could eventually go down this slippery slope into more brutal and sadistic television.
The first big show was Survivor, but instead of getting killed you got voted off. But over ten years later it doesn’t seem like reality TV went that way. It has stayed pretty tame considering how people imagined it would become. What started out as a fight to the finish on an island, which is more about politics than survival skills, has turned into other things like Cake Boss, Hell’s Kitchen, Celebrity Apprentice, Last Comic Standing, and Dancing with The Stars.
We used to be interested in survival of the fittest, now we’re more interested in merging that idea with food, cultural train wrecks, and celebrities. I don’t think we’ll see the Running Man anytime soon.