If you find yourself having flashbacks to those junior high moments when a random shout of “fight!” had half the school clamoring for a front-row view of two scrappy teens resolving their differences the same way their prehistoric ancestors did, then you might just be watching too much reality TV.
It seems the flavor du jour on reality shows these days is violence with a side of domestic battery. Thanks to shows like “Teen Mom,” “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Jersey Shore” and “Bad Girls Club,” gone are the days of mortification and embarrassment at being caught in a physically violent fray.
And the producers and promoters of these shows are pimping out these despicable spectacles just as hard as they can. Last year “Jersey Shore” used a viral video of Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi getting punched in the face by a man at a bar as the main promotion for their upcoming season. “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” featured the violence between Taylor Armstrong and her late, abusive husband (as pictured above) as the primary storyline for the entire second season.
Even simpering, self-involved reality families like the Kardashians have used the rageful antics of Kourtney’s paramour, Scott Disick, to increase ratings.
And it works.
That’s the most disturbing part. I’d like to be simply outraged with the producers who allow violence to be perpetuated and glorified through their reality rackets, but the sad truth is that watching people beat the shit out of one another is becoming America’s new favorite pastime. Let’s face it – if people weren’t tuning in, the fights wouldn’t keep airing.
Those teasers full of Snooki taking a fist to the jaw led to “Jersey Shore” doubling its ratings, and the promise of an out-of-control, violent Scott Disick brought “Kourtney and Kim Take New York” its highest-rated episode to date.
VH1’s “Bad Girls Club” is a show based almost entirely on women getting into altercations. Booze-filled sexual romps are no longer satisfying for the viewing public – things need to get downright painful to keep America’s attention.
And what about the advertisers? We can’t get very far into the irresponsible behavior of the “stars” and producers of these reality cesspools without calling out the companies who are writing out huge checks to schlep their goods to the violence-loving masses tuning in. Advertisers have a long history of pulling support because a spokesperson or program does something deemed unacceptable to have associated with the product – but there’s not been one outspoken advertiser taking a stand against this rampant glorification of violence.
Not only is domestic violence featured, but random acts of violence fueled by alcohol, rumor and innuendo are commonplace in many reality shows. In a day and age where bullying is in the spotlight as one of the greatest evils around, the contrast of PSAs against bullying and entire programs seemingly dedicated to people laying hands on one another is utterly mind-boggling. And it’s likely only going to get worse unless people start changing the channel, canceling their recordings and sending a strong message that leaves advertisers and producers no other choice than to pull the plug on violence.