Eva Bradley: Robbed by dreary tele


I've been robbed. It happened right in my own home, while I was there, sitting on the couch, during prime time. Out of the blue, one of those horrific reality TV shows came on and robbed me of thirty minutes of my life.

Gone. Poof. Never to be retrieved, recovered, no insurance can replace it, a whole half-hour of me ... taken.

I suppose the programme name should have given me some indication of what I was in for. Choosing to watch Neighbours at War is the equivalent of loitering in a dark alley with a fistful of cash. Something was bound to be lost.

I normally avoid reality television like the plague, known as it is for its poor production values, cheap talent hell-bent on their 15 seconds of fame at any cost and low-brow subject matter.

But perhaps in the hope of some neighbourly fisticuffs or some genuine suburban angst captured on CCTV, I watched. In part it was because it was one of those evenings when after a long day I simply didn't have the energy to shift from the couch, which is no doubt what all reality TV producers rely upon for their ratings anyway.

It doesn't say a lot for television content in this day and age that a story shoddily stitched together around two neighbours scrapping over a carpark was the best thing on paid and free-to-air TV at 7.30pm.

Although the content did have the unanticipated upshot of creating a genuine sense of accord between my boyfriend and I as we poured our collective scorn on the rubbish we were watching, I couldn't help but wonder what might have been had those 30 minutes been used in any of a number of different ways.

As I lobotomised my brain, heads of industry were earning themselves millions, scientists were bringing us one small step closer to a cure for cancer, war and peace were being waged and forged and life was being created.

My aspirations didn't stretch so far but I might at least have mown the lawns.

It's a sad indictment on New Zealanders that watching television is statistically our most popular leisure activity. As a nation we each dedicate two to three hours of the few we have left after we finish work following the mindless activities of white trash Americans with inflated boobs and angry neighbours with small lives and big attitudes.

What is it in the make-up of the human mind that we thrive on the detailed dramas of boring people and choose to switch off from our own lives and families in order to tune into the worst moments of other people's?

Our parents grew up absorbing values and morals by following the respectable daily dramas of picture-perfect families like The Waltons and the jolly cast of Happy Days.

What went wrong?

If Keeping Up With The Kardashians is really what we aspire to, then I see trouble ahead.

Reality TV is a vortex into which our morals and judgments about what is normal and acceptable get sucked along with all our spare time.

I think I might just have reached that dull but ethically admirable stage in life where it's time to switch to the History channel. Or mow those bloody lawns.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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