How low does reality television go? While reading the weekend’s papers an item popped up (well, actually several), but one really caught my eye.
“Who will win in the battle of the bizarres! Tanning Mom challenges Octomom to boxing match.”
Really? Is this what we really care about? Not the state of the country. Nor the upcoming election. Nor the fact that there are so many people on food stamps, the public dole, and out of work.
No, what’s really on our minds is how these two innocuous, untalented, and obnoxious people that have no business on the boob tube or taking up space in papers are going to challenge each other to a boxing match.
Right. It’s what’s on my DVR.
From the time that Philo Farnsworth had a dream of streaming live pictures from one camera tube to another camera tube somewhere else, and his first broadcast (at the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia on Aug. 25, 1934) the little six-inch tube tethered itself to our hearts and minds, bringing the everyday and common into our ordinary and mundane lives. More than radio, television was able to open up doors to places and things that we never imagined.
In the beginning it was great entertainment, “Your Show of Shows,” “Ed Sullivan,” “I Love Lucy,” and “The Honeymooners.” News broadcasts too allowed us folks to view world events up to and including the first man on the moon in 1969.
Television kept living up to its promise and potential of entertaining and enlightening all the way to 1971. Then something strange occurred.
“The American Family,” yes one of the very first reality television shows. Producers brought the cameras into the Loud family home in California and recorded, documentary style, their every bit of minutiae for our viewing pleasure.
Love at first dysfunctional site.
No longer was plain-old entertainment enough. We needed more. “Real People” (1979) and “That’s Incredible” (1980) ensued.
Then, in 1992, the “Real World” moved into really reality television and changed the landscape forever with cameras recording every little bump and grind for us to revel in, followed by colorful commentary from the “characters” themselves.
Which is where we are today. Swallowing the swill of the “Jersey Shore,” “Mob Wives,” and Octomom meets Tanning Mom in the rink, just to name a few.
How sad that a wonderful tool of education, entertainment, talent, and bringing the world together has degenerated into freakshow mentality with Octomom meets Tanning Mom.
Television needs to challenge our intellect, tickle our funny-bone, and bring back that old black-and-white magic into full Technicolor delight — up front and center in a place of respect — a place where Philo Farnsworth would be proud.
Not for Nuthin™, but I long for Sunday nights in front of the old Zenith color console and Ed Sullivan. Now that tickled our funny bones.
Follow me on Twitter @JDelBuono.