We don’t watch reality television the way we watch other TV programs. The very nature of it, along with the celebrities who appear on it, make that impossible. All of us – the viewers, the reality stars, bloggers, tweeters – engage in a sort of dance in which we try to follow the steps, but end up stomping on each others’ feet. All of us play a role in the charade, feeding off what we see and read about the programs, and those who appear on them. We, and I mean the collective we, react to the shows and to what’s written about them. The problem is that, all too often, what we’re seeing, reading about and hearing is not even close to the truth. The one and only thing we seem to able to agree on is what we see is not totally real and yet we keep trying to make sense out of it all as if we’re looking for some universal truth.
But that’s not enough to satisfy viewers who are constantly frustrated by things like editing, the absence of any semblance of order and the spin that’s offered by the stars. So what we do is try to find out what’s really going on, by tracking real-time schedules, doing our own fact-checking and communicating with the celebrities themselves, hoping they’ll shed some light on the things that make no sense to us. For all of our efforts, what we end up with is even more frustrating than if we’d just left it and them alone in the first place and watched this stuff like we watch any other programs. I don’t think we can, though. We know we’re being played at every turn, which only serves to drive us a little crazier and make us want to dig a little deeper. It’s a crazy little dance, for sure – something more like a mosh pit, really – and all of us get crushed in the frenzied crowd.
A couple of weeks ago, a comment was made on one of my Real Housewives of Beverly Hills posts that we, the viewers, had ruined the franchises. That stuck in my head until I finally realized that there was more than a little truth to it. Be participating in the dance, we’ve made these programs a little too personal. We debate the flaws along with the virtues of the celebrities, when we really don’t know anything about them. We see how they behave, good and bad, during the 44 minutes they appear on our TVs each week, but we also know that those are only a small part of who they really are. And yet, we choose to support or criticize them, picking sides or teams, as if they actually mattered to us. This isn’t a bad thing as long as we keep in mind that we’re being manipulated, even used, by the folks who appear on our televisions. They want to stay on these shows and are willing to do just about anything to ensure that they do.
The dangerous side of it all is when the lines are blurred – when fans become truly fanatical and the stars use that fanaticism to declare war on one another. Then it gets ugly – real fast. The most obvious examples of this can be seen on Twitter, where those who either love or hate one celebrity or another take to their keyboards to do battle. Only because we’re in the middle of another season with the Housewives of Beverly Hills is it worth even writing about the Twitter wars going on right now. The enemy combatants are Brandi Granville and Joyce Giraud (Ohoven) and each of them have their supporters and detractors. A lot of very nasty words and accusations are being thrown around, and I’m not sure who is looking like the winner or loser in it all. Tweeps have created accounts to either praise their favorite or annihilate their chosen enemy. That seems to be a whole lot of energy expended for the purpose of showing one’s feelings, but then again, I was happy to create one account without completely destroying my computer in the process.
I think what astounds me the most is the level of love or, on the flip side, vitriol that goes into these tweets. Hundreds of tweeps, in 140 characters or less, are more than happy to tell their favorite celebrity and fellow tweeps how much they like and support them. On the other hand, there are just as many who, if we don’t fall in line with their choices, are just as content to tell us to go f**k ourselves and then follow up with what’s supposed to be the ultimate insult by blocking us. I haven’t sent a tweet to a celebrity since Jill Zarin used the blocking tactic against me, but I can’t say I lost much sleep over it.
Because of the way this kind of thing works, some of this nonsense has spilled over into the blogs. We can’t help it, I guess. It’s human nature, as well as in blogging, to want to write about we’ve seen, and offer our commentary on the behaviors that are engaged in by the celebrities. I do it all the time. Sometime it’s fun, sometimes it’s not. Watching Brandi, both on the show and in the tabloids is an eye-opening experience, to say the least. It’s also, at least for me, a window into who she is. Maybe I’m all wet, and the times we’ve seen her staggering drunk, in various states of disheveled ugliness are just as she claims – that they were just the 2.5 times she actually was that bad. It’s hard to believe but that’s the story she’s sticking to. What I can’t understand are those who find her behavior completely acceptable and completely forgivable, giving her a pass and a pat on the back for being unfiltered and owning it, particularly when the pattern repeats itself.
This isn’t meant to look as if I’m picking on only Brandi. There are plenty of these so-called celebrities whose behaviors leave us shaking our heads. In terms of Bravo, it began with Jill Zarin’s special brand of foolishness and expanded into any number of them who either can’t or don’t know how to deal with their new-found fame. They act out and lash out in ways that leave us confused and, sometimes, just a little embarrassed for them, maybe even angry at times.
As for blogging about them, well, I’ve found that the dance steps are just a little bit harder. We bloggers, for the most part, try to maintain some distance, allowing for some sense of fairness and, whenever possible, a bit of humor when we write about them. I’ve read enough blogs, by any number of bloggers, who do a very good job at being equal opportunity snarkers and do so in very artful and unbiased ways. It doesn’t always work out that way, though. There are times when we just can’t overlook the things that are so awful, so disrespectful or just so shocking that we’re compelled to take the blogs in a different direction and use what we have available to us to take the stars to task for it. Then, there are others who blur the lines, becoming personally involved with the celebrities and are either unable or unwilling to see what’s right before their eyes. They also take to Twitter or Facebook or whatever social media is available to them to extol the goodness that lies within their favorite personality. It’s not my personal cup of tea, but that’s the wonderful thing about blogging. We can pick and choose our material and our celebrities and offer whatever opinions we want.
I think what we need to do, as bloggers and viewers, is to remember to respect that space and those opinions. We also have to take into account that we’re being lied to, especially when one of the stars is telling us what we want to hear. Each and every one of them comes into this little dance with an agenda and a desire to be famous. The truth is not part of any of that. It’s all just a bunch of blurred lines and that’s the reality of it all.