Our View: Reality TV continues to disappoint

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When future social anthropologists examine the second decade of the 21st century, they probably are less likely to take note of Phil Robertson's critical remarks about gays than the fact anyone paid attention.

Robertson is the patriarch of the Louisiana clan that makes duck hunting equipment and whose lives have been chronicled in the "Duck Dynasty" television program. It is the most popular reality show ever.

In December, A&E suspended Robertson for his disparaging comments about homosexuality that appeared in the January issue of GQ magazine. About a week later A&E reinstated Robertson. While his views were offensive to many, it's also true that they are shared by many millions of Christians, and people of other faiths as well.

But while the debate has been fierce about whether Robertson's remarks are accurate and whether he should be permitted to express them, there's also the matter of how a long-bearded duck-call manufacturer came to be a celebrity of such significant notoriety that his opinions mattered to so many.

Credit the rise of cable television, which has given us wonderful new viewing opportunities but more often causes us to feel like we've won the lottery when, clicking desperately through the channels, we stumble onto something we actually want to watch.

With so many hours to fill on so many channels, the lords of television discovered that reality television is both appealing to a sufficient number of viewers and inexpensive enough to allow for a profit. Welcome, Real Housewives et al.

It's been more than 50 years since Newton N. Minnow, then chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, decried television offerings as "a vast wasteland." Little did he know the industry hadn't even begun to explore the farthest reaches.

Some remarkable dramas have made their way onto cable, most often by way of subscription channels. "Breaking Bad," as an example, appeared on A&E this year, and before that "The Sopranos" was available to people with only basic cable. That level of programming, though, is far outweighed by the less praiseworthy.

Perhaps a few decades in the future we'll view reality TV the same way we look back on leisure suits, wondering with some embarrassment what we saw in them. Just as likely, though, it will be replaced by something at least as unimpressive. Pass the remote, please.

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  • "Phil Robertson's critical remarks about gays "

    The more I see and hear of this Robertson thing the more I'm reminded of South Park Episode 801 - Good Times With Weapons. Toward the end of the episode Stan says "I guess parents don't give a crap about violence if there's sex things to worry about."

    I see people don't care about anything if there are "sex things to worry about".

    Seems the Media is focusing on the 'sex things' toi divert attention from the truly revealing thoughts uttered by Robertson.

    Right Wing Christain's views on sex are well known and when Robertson revealed his beliefs about sexuality I thought 'there is another one'. (Discovering that Robertson believes in taking a child brides and that sexual orientation a choice (??) does add a dimension to this.)

    The truly revealing words uttered by Robertson and what is being mostly ignored by the media is about race and the 'Happy Negro Farmhand' in the Jim Crow south, not singing the blues and never hearing a complaint.

    This tells me Robertson was oblivious to the reality to what he was imersed in, Jim Crow South, or Robertson is counting on others being oblivious and unschooled in American History. Or possably a combination of both.?

    Darn, I have to plow another drive, I would love to have the time to flesh this out,

    Keep focusing on those sex things.

  • Golly! dowhatsright, your first and third paragraphs, something we agree on. Something like the passing of Morgan Freeman or Jack Nicholson has a place on the news. Otherwise if I cared I would already know and I'm already embarrased by how much I know about Pop Culture only through osmosis.

    Your second paragraph, "politically correct", don't care. There are middle aged and older women who can kick most mens butts, but a willow thin woman? probably not. It's the old saying, change the channel.  would be far happier if supposedly reality based entertainment reflected actual reality, I'm thinking science as demonstrated in CSI. But that would also include news.

  • dowhatsright,

    You don't see it but I am standing up and applauding your comment.  I know that is exactly how 85% of the population feels and it is one of the reasons I watch less and less tv, I mute the channel when commercials come on, I just don't want to hear them anymore.  You hit everything right on the head of the nail.

    That was one of the best comments I have ever read on here.

    Martin Fleming

  • All most all of TV disappoints everyone. Even the TV news stinks. We want to see the news, not a bunch of ego maniacs that think we tune in to see them. Also, we don’t give a dam about some want to be band that plays on the TV news like channel 8. We want news. We do not care what kind of panty shields Brittney Spears uses. Tell us what is happening in the country and our city, and quit using the new anchor people to advertise your own stupid programs. If we want to know who got kicked off of Dancing with the Stars, or The Race, or The Idol, we would watch those programs. Don’t act like that is a big new item; it is not.

    Also we do not want the TV to be politically correct. I know the women have complained about the action parts going to men, but do you really expect us to believe that some 110 lb woman wearing high heel and a short skirt can run down a 225 lb ex boxer and beat the **** out of him. I think that is a little too much for anyone to believe, yet you write this crap for some over the hill female actress that wants to be a star again.

    Give us the program we tune in to watch. You give us 5 minutes of program and 10 minutes of commercials. Every commercial break has at least 6 or 7 commercials. Also all of your college teams quit putting your games on ESPN and channels that charge to watch the game, especially your state universities. We pay for the whole dam school; we should be able to watch the football game without shelling out $80.00 a month for cable TV.