Fake News, Alternative Facts, The Kardashians and Donald Trump as President are all the product of good old Reality TV. Drawing its lineage back to the earliest ’Big Brother’ and ’Pop / American Idol’. ’Made in Chelsea’ used to be my own guilty pleasure - I liked the soundtrack, the various smart locations and venues, and some of the pretty people were interesting to look at and watch how they reacted to and handled various artificial scenarios. Yet I am under no illusion to believe that any of this was/is ’real’. As an interesting experiment, just compare the main female cast members form ’Geordie Shore’ now to how they looked originally - they are all almost unrecognisable. The same goes for a growing number of male cast members across all the reality shows, a surprising amount of these are now cosmetically enhanced - a standard nose-job, a nip here, a tuck there, dental veneers - these are plastic people now and no longer approximating anything real or genuine - and these have become the role models for the youth of today!
More and more of these personalities are also producing a variety of fitness and lifestyle tapes / DVDs - which are as artificial as the programmes that spawned them - the general public is never going to get half-way close to those results without the dedicated personal trainers and nutritionists that the ’celebrities’ get assigned to them - and yet these fitness tapes are perennial best-sellers.
So the first big untruth in all of this is the moniker ’Real’ - none of this is real, and everything has been artificially augmented, set-up, manipulated and very selectively edited. Reality TV is about as real as the heavily overly melodramatic storylines of modern soap operas - where people have witnessed so much before, that they need some extra sauce on it to make it even remotely resonate any more.
Millions of impressionable people now take these ’Reality’ shows and the ’actors’ within them as the baseline for their own realities. Same goes for all the wonderfully edited Internet Celebrities we see on YouTube and Instagram. We are most of us familiar with the Essena O’Neill story, and how she became disillusioned with the fakery of her supposed aspirational / Instagram lifestyle. Yet ask the youth of today what they want to become in life, and way too large a number want to be the next Kardashian rather than the next Nobel prize winner.
’The Kardashians’ is a phenomena, like Donald Trump as POTUS, that I’m hard pressed to comprehend. I personally see no appeal in anything the Kardashians do, and wholly fail to see not only how they can sustain their multi-million-dollar empire, but how they continue to remain popular and relevant to so many. I also fail to see how Donald Trump - who after a lifetime of exploiting the ’little man’ is now supported by so many that he would have no qualms about cheating out of a ’Donald Trump Discount’ or selling down the river.
Technologists are working hard to create the next level of augmented reality - following on from Pokemon Go, but truth is that the next round of augmented reality has been with us for a while now. The amazing thing is how real it is to so many people, when it is quite obviously wholly artificial in every way. That something of so little substance could become to influential is kind of beyond belief - figuratively and literally.
And that so many Trump supporters still support him 100% - believing him to be a breath of anti-establishment fresh air - to be a real and genuine person with their interests at heart, when he is so obviously not, and when he still continues to surround himself with the most ethically corrupt of establishment people. And what is more worrying still - that even when faced with incontrovertible, scientifically supported evidence, those same supporters still prefer to believe the lies rather than the actual established truths.
It’s also not just all the TV channels that are in on it, the majority of mass-read ’media’ are peddling the same artificially constructed and fake realities - whether it be The Daily Mail or The Sun in the UK, or Fox News in the USA - all are guilty of serially misleading the public and as yet to an unspecified degree - all are in part responsible for enabling and legitimising the growth in hate crimes - particularly those along religious, ethnic and nationalistic lines. Just scan through the amount of headlines blaming ’immigrants’ for all the ills of society, much in the same way that Jews were stigmatised by Hitler and his own propaganda machines in and around the last world war.
I genuinely worry where all of this is leading - what the end game is here? And who is really pulling the strings and to what purpose? Why are there more and more ’Climate Change Deniers’, ’Creationists’ and ’Flat Earthers’ appearing every day - even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. And how do they so innately ’Believe’ that their mere interpretation of ’alternative facts’ are equal to the actual properly established truths. Is this a new level of gullibility, is this a new form of religion? I get that economically times are tough for many families, and that they have lost faith in the establishment through decades of negligence - but electing Donald Trump - who so obviously only cares about himself - why would you ever do that?
Life is a tough enough proposition for all of us, but to have these artificial constructs now as markers for successful living is somewhat tougher still - none of this is really attainable outside the editing room. None of this is real, and none of this should matter - yet to too many people it still does - what complicated times we live in...