Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Reality of Reality TV
Submitted for post by Marie
There is much speculation and assumption about what it's really like to have your family filmed for a reality show. The popularity of JK8 has spawned, as we well know, hate sites, fan sites and everything in between sites.
Many of these sites claim, based on viewing the show once a week (and in some cases, reviewing the taped show over and over and over. and over) that this is a terrible thing to do to children; some go so far as to call it child abuse.
To that, I say: "Seriously? Child Abuse? Come on."
However, is it all puppies and rainbows, happiness and joy? Are there real downsides to being a reality TV family?
I have ridden the pendulum on JK8: I began "hating" them without ever actually seeing an episode, transitioned to curious viewer who thought Kate was terrible, moved on to huge fan who adored the kids and have now comfortably settled at content to watch the cute kids and family dynamics and enjoying it.
Does this mean I think everything on the show is wonderful? Of course not. Lest I be called a "sheeple", being a fan doesn't entail agreeing with everything little thing, fridge cleaning obsessions and all.
After all, I adore my husband but, let me tell you, there are something’s he does that almost make me lose my religion. Does it mean I love him any less? Of course not.
I can enjoy watching JK8 and, at the same time, find things I don't agree with on it. Pretty neat, huh? Viewing a show in a balanced way, swinging neither to blissful stalker type love or ulcer forming hatred.
With that said, due to some recent experiences with a real life reality TV show family, I wanted to share what I see, both the good, the bad and the ugly.
I am still processing this and haven't come to any firm conclusions and pose the following information to spark discussion.
Through a social connection, I know a family who has been on a series in the reality TV format. Through my interaction with the family and the kids, here's what I've noticed about being a reality TV family.
Some things are scripted. There was an episode I was filmed for (don't know if my section will air or not) and we had to do about four "re-takes." It was supposed to be something spontaneous and natural; however, the cameraman/producer kept having us re-do this "surprise" moment until they got it right. Is this good or bad? Did this ruin the moment for the kids by taking away the actual surprise? Will the children's lives now be scripted and lived for the cameras? Hard to tell.
Another scripted thing is trips. There were quite a few "trips" planned by the producer for the family to make an episode. On a few of those, the children, did indeed, miss school. Could there be a positive in this? Perhaps the children learned new things that day; after all, education doesn't just happen in the classroom. Perhaps the children would not have been able to take this trip without the network's dime funding it and, in that way, this scripted moment was a chance for them to experience something new. Again, hard to tell.
Another way I've noticed being a reality TV family has an impact: the children do feel socially awkward. On the other hand, suddenly being "popular" by being TV "stars" has also given the children more confidence (socially) than they had before. A healthy trade off? We shall see.
And finally, being a reality TV show family can force one to alter their life for the cameras. For example, one of the children had a chance to participate in a social function, which would have involved a slight appearance change, which would have been temporary. The child, in this instance, was “not allowed” to participate by altering their appearance as the producers wanted “consistency” for the show.
Did this child lose out on an important childhood ritual or rite? Did they have to take flack from their peers? Did they feel resentful? The verdict isn't in it.
What is a positive is the chance to further the children's education. Without this show, I know for a fact, that the children would NOT be able to go to college without substantial loans or scholarships. Most of the money
made from this show is going towards college funds for the children.
And, so far, the family hasn't changed. They are still the down to earth people they've always been. Will it stay that way? Stay tuned.
Posted by Nina Bell at 10:43 PM