I was reading an article posted last year by Brain Stelter of the New York Times titled, “With New Stars, Reality Shows See Costs Rise.” In this article, Stelter reports that each cast member of the MTV show Jersey Shore will receive 25,000 dollars an episode. Although this article was written in 2010, I included it in this opinion piece because of where it was published; THE NEW YORK TIMES. That’s interesting. But the most interesting part of this article is that it explains that reality stars get paid for their performances. Wait, what?! Reality cast members are being paid for doing absolutely nothing? I can’t help but to rhetorically ask out loud, “What is this world coming to?”
Reality television has provided average Janes and Joes with the financial stability that the majority of the people in our society work hard to obtain. Shows like “Jersey Shore,” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and the Real Housewives series, contributes to the most watched shows on television. Besides the fact that these are all reality television shows, they all share a commonality of turning the lives of unaccomplished individuals into fame and fortune, and redefining what it means to be successful. The celebrity status of sex-tape victim turned reality star Kim Kardashian and Jersey Shore star Snooki, surpasses that of talented actresses and actors who’ve dedicated their entire lives to mastering the art of their craft, and earning their celebrity status. But neither the Kardashians, nor the Jersey Shore cast members are to blamed for the attention they receive. Of course that blame solely belongs to the viewers who watch their shows week after week, and for some people, day after day.
The reason reality stars are of the social status that they are is because of our attraction to unhealthy forms of entertainment. In a perfect world, we’d find enjoyment in the arts and events with an educational purpose and even religion, but in today’s society, violence, verbal abuse, and the humor we find in watching the chaos boil over on MTV is more entertaining to us then art and moral standards. To put it a bit more direct, we are entertained by people who are famous for doing what we do every day, nothing. Being that this is so, it makes me question how happy we are with our own lives. We get wrapped up in the lives of people who we’ve never met and are as average as me, you and our next door neighbors, but we watch their reality shows religiously as if they’re something more than what they are. A part of me can accept the fact that the majority of us are so unhappy with our lives that we live to watch reality television, but for people to be paid when they haven’t earned anything is something I just can’t understand. Reality cast members should sit back, relax, and be happy that we even care about what’s going on in their lives, instead of expecting or demanding money.
The newest “nobody turned somebody” is the ex-girlfriend of the successful rapper Kanye West, named Amber Rose. While appearing on the Jamie Foxx’s Foxhole radio show on serious satellite radio, she states that her show will be filming in May of this year. Sadly, I know of someone who has invested in that show. Amber, Kim, NeNe, Snooki, etc. are the new faces of fame. We know this, and sadly, so do our children. The aspirations of being a fireman or police officer, or even a doctor or a lawyer will be replaced by video dancers, reality stars and people who profit off of the fame of others. Oh, don’t we just love America?