Thursday, February 4, 2010

Playing the game

I was watching clips of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe on YouTube, and during one of his many deconstructions of reality TV, I remembered one of the reality programs I realised just why one of the reality shows I had seen in Mexico was so weird: because unlike British or American 'reality' TV, they not only acknowledged by embraced the fact that they were playing The Game. What does 'playing The Game' mean? Let me explain.

We all know reality TV is not reality. We all know that if the people on it aren't paid actors, the can still be directed and if not directed, then editing can completely change what happened. We know that no one is actually trying to find love; they just want their overly-made-up, stupid face on TV so they can ignore all their latent trust issues and just be famous for fifteen minutes. People may not acknowledge it, but they know it.

So this show in Mexico, it's called Yo Quiero Enamorarse (I want to fall in love). The format alone is really strange and confusing and the show itself last for about four hours every time that it's on, which I really don't get, but basically it's got a group of people of one sex trying to vie for the attention of someone of the opposite sex.

One episode, the girl who has all these guys competing for her, goes on a boat date with one of the guys. And for each date, the guys are given a secret challenge. This particular challenge was to 'steal a kiss'. And this one dude did it, of course, in the most awkward way possible, and you could tell how awkward it was because the poor girl made no attempts to hide how uncomfortable she was. When the judges later asked her why she was so bothered, she meekly answered that she felt like he was kissing her to win the challenge and not because he wanted to.

I thought, Wow, a genuine, real person on reality television? What is this demonry?

But one of the judges reprimanded her, saying This is a reality show and if you can't handle that then why are you here?

And that's it: this show didn't just have everyone pretend like they were taking it seriously as a competition for a real relationship. They basically were willing to come out and say, Yeah, this is fake. But you knew that when you signed the contract, so deal with it.

Which in the realm of 'reality', might be the 'realest' thing I've ever seen.

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