COMMENT:

Would you send your kids off to fight to the death for the entertainment of others?

Of course not.

Would you volunteer to do the same if there was a lot of money involved and a pretty good chance at surviving?

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Possibly, but probably not.

But what if everyone else was doing it? What if it was cool, and fashionable and all your celebrity heroes endorsed it?

Would you sign yourself up to be physically tortured on TV?

What about to subject yourself to weeks of sleep deprivation and emotional manipulation?

It all sounds kind of crazy, but here's the plot twist: Those last two things are already happening.

I remember when I first read - and later saw - The Hunger Games . Those dystopian-future stories seem like fantasy because it's about something you know would never happen today. If you're unfamiliar, The Hunger Games is an annual event in the book which sees two young "tributes" taken from each district to compete in a battle royale for sheer entertainment value.

It used to seem so obviously impossible but now ... well now it doesn't actually seem as far-fetched as it once did.

Our tastes in entertainment appear to be growing more and more violent and sadistic - and I'm no exception. In our weekly Game of Thrones podcast I found myself disappointed that not enough people were brutally killed off in a battle.

How about that torture and manipulation I mentioned earlier? The manipulation is evident in most reality shows; Married at First Sight , The Bachelor , Survivor and more or less all rely on contestants being sleep deprived, well-liquored, malnourished, forced to compete or all of the above.

The aforementioned torture is evident in a new Netflix show called Flinch which has been described as "consensual torture" and "like a Black Mirror episode" in real life.

Contestants are subjected to things designed to make them flinch - loud noises, rats near their faces, jack in the boxes - and if they flinch, they're punished by being dunked into water or electrocuted.

It harks back to a show called Distraction in which contestants had to answer trivia questions while being electrocuted, thrown around by wrestlers or eating something disgusting.

And that's just reality TV. In fictional TV we've got the gore and violence of Game of Thrones , the systematic oppression of The Handmaid's Tale , and the violent psychosis of Killing Eve .

Video games are gory and violent and even in real life, people flock to social media to see real footage of people being shot by police - even the livestream by the Christchurch mosque shooter went viral before it could be shut down.

This isn't new. Some of my earliest memories of first getting the internet involve seeing bondage pornography (the hazards of looking up a kids' show called Squirt - mother was appalled) and kids swapping stories about a website where you could see gory crime scene photos and real-life abuse and murder, caught on film.

That was back when you could make the whole family a cup of tea in the time it took to load one web page, so God only knows what's out there now.

The point is, we've become so thirsty for violence and gore both in fiction, real life and wherever reality TV falls between the two, that honestly, the idea that something like The Hunger Games could become a reality isn't all that outlandish to me any more.

Of course we'd have to take some pretty twisted turns to get there, but consider our current tastes, the fact that the US President would probably love a real-life Hunger Games and also happens to be a former reality TV star, and the fact that people are willing to do more stupid and dangerous stunts than ever for their 15 minutes of viral fame.

Recent headlines have seen kids eating poisonous laundry detergent pods, couples slammed for taking "risky" photos dangling out of pools and trains, and a study which reports 43 people a year die trying to take the perfect selfie.

Just imagine, if all the stars aligned in the most horrific way, what we're capable of for entertainment and fame.