I am not a fan of reality television. I haven’t ever been a fan of reality television. I have yet to sit through an entire episode of The Real World. I never been into Big Brother. And I have no desire to watch a bunch of over-done-up ex sorority babes figure out which closeted gay guy they want to marry. There was that time I watched Survivor – a few years back. It was the one with that little cute gal and that big mean gal and the gay guy who eventually won a million dollars. I think he was later brought up on molestation charges. I have no idea.
But I had a thought about reality television last night as I sat at Buffalo Billards and watched the vice presidential debate on one of their many massive, wide-screen televisions. There were hundreds of people there. Most of them were there to watch the debate. The management printed signs and posted them all over the place. The signs read:
The jukebox will be turned off at nine for the Vice Presidential Debates.
How totally exciting. Does this happen elsewhere? Does this happen in other cities? I am genuinely wondering. Because twice, since I have been here, I have watched a political debate at a public venue surrounded by strangers. And not only were we all staring up at the screens like a room full of jocks during the Superbowl, but most of us went out specifically to watch them. And that’s pretty damn cool if you ask me.
So I began to wonder, has it always been this way? Have people always met in bars to watch the presidential debates? Have they always cheered, moaned, clapped, and hollered at the T.V. screen? Has reality television helped us all take a “show” of this nature a bit more seriously? Are we better at paying attention to how people talk to one another? How they relate to one another?
Maybe I am the one who changed. I mean, had I been at home watching this alone, I still would have been impressed that it meant so much to me – that I watched at all. But it seems to be everyone else as well. Did Jon Stewart and Ali G make it cool to care? Did George Bush make us all wary of where we might end up? Is it the war? Now that I wrote it out, all of that makes a bit more sense than giving the credit to reality television. In the end, it’s nice to see people pay attention at all.
We may be living in a chaotic, uncertain time. But I think it’s a pivotal time as well. Let’s just hope our new direction proves to be a positive one.