Reality TV: Get it out of here?

With the reappearance of “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”  this week, several controversial opinions of reality television have resurfaced with someone in my year renaming it “I’m A Celebrity Reject… Get Me Out of Here!”.

These shows are supposed to be the epitome of A-listers but this year’s line-up has been quite a disappointment and referred to as more of a gathering of “Z-Listers”.

So why do opinions about reality television in general vary so much?

Many people think that celebrities degrade themselves through increased exposure to become more famous. Contestants carry out humiliating tasks just to entertain those watching. These situations are carefully controlled and scenes in things like “Geordie Shore” are often set up and scripted, thus deceiving the public as the fate of many contestants is often pre-determined.

So why then do these kinds of programmes like “I’m A Celebrity” have such a large following, with over 15 million people watching?

For some, reality television is a way to unwind after a busy day. It allows people to pass judgement on the actions of others and vent their feelings in a way which is healthy and not damaging to society. In some cases, celebrities can act as a role model, especially this year with gold medal winning hockey player Sam Quek who joined the line-up after the success in Rio.  These people can be a positive influence on younger people watching as it is a large platform that people can use to spread a positive message to its large audience. It promotes the independence of people and the power that they have to overcome a fear, thus encouraging its audience to do the same. This publicity, however, can be a bad thing because if a mistake is made then a large number of people witness it and the focus of the public is directed towards this person. Last year’s Lady Colin Campbell received her fair share of public hatred after her ‘nasty’ side was revealed towards the end of the series.

This kind of television is watched by so many people and contributes so much to the industry. It increases the diversity of viewing and makes programmes more accessible to a larger number of people. The programmes are largely sponsored and this promotes businesses and again increases consumer interest in products. For example, Aunt Bessie has signed a £6 million deal to sponsor “I’m A Celebrity” this year, ending Iceland’s 9 year sponsorship. Sponsorship raises brand awareness of companies and puts a spotlight on their business, thus benefitting the company enormously.

Reality television sparks diversity of opinion about whether it is just a waste of time, but if these kinds of programmes are appealing to people, and are not detrimental to society, then why should we judge people on what they choose to watch?

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