Portney’s Complaint

Devon Portney

Why is it that people refuse to see the difference between television and real life? We incorporate what we see on television into our lives, and we structure our lives around television. How many people rearrange their schedules to watch “Lost” or “American Idol”? Why do people vest so much interest in make believe?

The average American watches TV for over seven hours a day. How is that even possible if they have a job?

The problem begins with the amount of TV a person watches. But this problem perpetuates into something worse. People no longer see the spot where TV ends and real life begins.

A common complaint of criminal prosecutors is that juries expect mounds of scientific evidence presented to them, due to shows like CSI and Law and Order. What people fail to realize is that shows which portray real life situations are not necessarily true to life. Everything that happens on Law and Order could happen, but that doesn’t mean it’s likely to.

The testing done on CSI is exciting and intricate. People love to see crimes solved by maggot germination, bullet path lasers, or a beating simulation with prosthetics. They don’t understand that although these tests are possible, hardly any police department has the funding to purchase such equipment. Some of these machines and computers are upwards of $100,000.00.

These tests also take weeks and often months to yield results. A toxicology test can take up to five months, not one commercial break. It frustrates police detectives when citizens expect convenient evidence to fall into their laps, and quickly. If people would grab onto reality, rather than the remote, they might come to understand the way things really happen in the real world.

Then of course, there is reality television; the used car salesman of the television world. It will do anything for ratings, even have a pompous, British, bastard verbally abuse a teenager until they cry. And the best part is that people think these shows are actual reality, on camera.

Reality shows are perhaps more fake than scripted shows. This is because they are pretending to be real, when they are just as staged as any other show. At least with scripted dramas and sitcoms, they are being upfront about pretending. The term ‘reality show’ is an oxymoron in and of itself.

The whole purpose of television and movies is to take us away from the real world, not to make us think that the two are intertwined. When you lose sense of the difference between the two, you lose touch with the world- the real one.