Is Reality Television A Legitimate Art Form?

Reality television constructs situations that expose the very essence of the human psyche. What happens if two people who hate each other find themselves trapped in a room together? How does the beauty queen react when the ugly duckling steals her man? While it may be semi-scripted or even staged entirely, surely that alone doesn’t make it any less credible than a work of fiction? And if not, why to most people is Big Brother (the reality show) a lesser work of art than George Orwell’s 1984?

We all have our own definition of what constitutes art; therefore, the question “what is art?“ isn’t really worth answering. “What is ‘good’ art?” might be more appropriate. In my opinion art itself is nothing more than the act of creation, while ‘good art’ evokes a feeling from within me. And although I hate to admit it, reality television can do exactly that. Despite taking it all with a pinch of salt, even I can feel emotional during an X-Factor montage, or anger at Lauren Conrad’s best friend for flirting with her chap.

We watch reality television with a pre-conception of disbelief. We understand and acknowledge that the melodramatic, amped-up characters are playing the tabloid game, desperately seeking fame. Nobody minds the exaggerated personalities, dramatized settings and behind-the-scenes manipulation. We’re not gullible; we simply don’t find excitement in the truth. But why on earth does it trigger an emotional reaction?

Reality Television Will Continue to Grow

Reality television has turned into a massive industry. Paris Hilton and the Kardashian clan have used the platform, along with their socialite status, to amass an empire that would leave any business mogul salivating — and that’s commendable. We can roll our eyes, laugh and feel disgusted at their lifestyles, but what they’re doing is not dissimilar to what we all do on social media through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We document our lives for all to see, yet shake our heads when others do the very same thing on television, and feel angry that they’re monetising fame.

While many of us hoped that the whole reality television thing was just a fad, the truth is, it’s not only bigger than ever, but the digital environment is creating a perfect breeding ground for the medium. Last year in the United States, telecoms company AT&T announced a new TV Everywhere strategy, aiming to make content available on all platforms (wireless, satellite and cable broadband). Imagine being able to keep 24 hour tabs on your favourite reality show, and not even needing a television, or to tune in at a specific time — like Big Brother Live times one thousand. That’s where we’re heading. With video streaming services, Facebook live, and access to mobile content 24 hours a day, reality television is no longer reserved for the Gogglebox. In fact, the phrase reality ‘television’ hardly seems fitting anymore. Perhaps reality ‘mobile’ or reality ‘broadcasting’ would be more suitable?

Reality Television has a Firm Grasp Over Modern Culture

Reality television is often considered the lowest form of television entertainment. But it really is an unstoppable force with a massive influence over society. When UK polling company Into the Blue, asked 1,000 16-year-olds “what would you like to do for a career?” 56% answered “become a celebrity,” with almost a quarter of them hoping to achieve their ambitions through a reality television show. Additionally, 70% of the population has gone on record stating that they watch reality television (note the phrase ‘on record’). And lest not forget, the leader of the free world, President Trump, pretty much owes his most recent gig to his appearances on The Apprentice.

Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that reality television has a firm grasp over modern culture, perhaps more so than any other art form. In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say it has changed the world… surely that makes it legitimate?

Theresa May Has Proven She Is Not Fit To Protect Britain

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If Theresa May was the strong leader she claims to be, she would have held up her hands and took at least some responsibility for the recent failure of intelligence regarding the Manchester and London Bridge terrorists. Instead she had the audacity to stand in front of the press and declare “enough is enough,” despite accusing the very people who acted so bravely of “crying wolf” and “scaremongering” just two years ago when warned that police cuts could risk national security.

But whether she held herself [partly] accountable or not, at the very least, she should have pledged to reverse the ruthless budget cuts that left 20,000 police officers out of work. Instead she chose to discredit all criticism, claim the police are “well funded” and create a new soundbite to add to her ever expanding playlist, “It’s not just about resource, it’s about the powers people have.”

And for those who dismiss the numbers, lest not forget the sale of arms to Saudi-Arabia, a major funding source for jihadists. According to Home Secretary Amber Rudd “it’s good for industry,” as she so valiantly declared in the BBC’s election debate… as if a valid reason to compromise safety and security.

“The UK hasn’t done enough to tackle terrorism.” Says May, the women whose job it was to tackle terrorism for six years as the Home Secretary. If she had stood up and said “I haven’t done enough to tackle terrorism,” maybe she would have lost some support, but at least it would have been a respectable response.

If the terrible events of this week have proven anything, it’s that Theresa May has a callus regard for the safety of British citizens. She wants to be the Iron Lady, Thatcher mark II, but if we are to judge her on her record — which we all should — it’s clear that all she has is an iron heart.

We Must Not Fight Faith, We Must Fight Hate

Over the last few months there has been calls for internment, the arming of all police, and now, regulation of the Internet. What happened to British values? We are a civilized society; it’s not the 1940s. We don’t live in an Orwell-esque totalitarian state. We don’t lock people up because of their beliefs, nor do we arrest them for committing “thought-crimes.”

In the BBC Question Time special it was truly shocking to see Jeremy Corbyn attacked for emphasising how catastrophic nuclear war would be for both the country and planet. In my opinion, any leader of a country that would answer “Yes” to pushing the red button without question — even if the country was under threat — is not strong enough to lead.

It’s not weak to wish for a peace or step up and make a case for pacifism. It’s not weak to open a dialogue with people you don’t agree with and attempt to find diplomatic solutions to issues of national security. It is weak, however, to flex your muscles and say “look how big my missiles are.” It is weak to threaten EU leaders with compromised crime and security intelligence, and gamble with people’s lives, just to prove a point.

And for those reading this who criticise the minority of MPs who voted against the renewal of Trident, just remember, a stockpile of nuclear weapons and dropping bombs on the Middle East may sound like a deterrent, but it’s not going to stop a radicalised, British-born idiot from getting in a van and running people over. A properly manned police force might, however…

We Have a Chance to Do Something Differently

We finally have somebody running for Prime Minister who has a firm moral compass. The Labour manifesto may seem like a pipe dream; it may seem bold, but at least it offers hope. And I’d rather be radical and hopeful than cynical and pessimistic. As a country, we can do better.

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Why We Need Quality Citizen Journalism More Than Ever

The modern age of digital media has changed the face of journalism. We are no longer passive observers, but active creators and critics. Through social media we are all citizen journalists, whether we know it or not. Every time we share stories we are spreading news that influences our inner circles. And like a lone sheep following the flock, many of us tend to attune our attitudes with those who gain the most likes or can articulate their opinions with credibility.

The phrase “fake news” echoes throughout the Internet, especially with Donald Trump demonising press outlets that don’t subscribe to his agenda, and praising those that do – facts and credibility have little to do with it. It now seems like it’s common practice for large-scale public figures to gain the trust and approval of the masses and condemn those who don’t follow suit. And many journalists are running scared, afraid of public uproar.

But the objective of a journalist shouldn’t be popularity, it should be to present factual news in a neutral and unbiased form, and maintain the trust and confidence of the public. It seems like in recent years the word “journalism” has taken on a new, ambiguous meaning. It can no longer be accurately defined in the Oxford blurb as the definition itself often contradicts the practice. Nowadays it seems to be about picking the “correct” political alignment and gaining followers, rather than revealing and spreading truth.

Truth is Now an Objective Opinion

It seems odd on the surface that a substantial proportion of everyday citizens choose to ignore facts. We see the tabloids indoctrinate readers to support whatever cause they support that week, and then taking a u-turn when the political landscape turns sour – as if THEY were sold a lie – on a weekly basis. We all know it, and yet, many don’t seem to acknowledge it.

Brexit – both the leave campaign and remain campaign – was a true demonstration of how the press can skewer facts to align with their own economic agenda. But this is nothing new. While it’s more widely recognized, it has always been the same. Throughout the whole Brexit campaign and U.S. Presidential Election there was practically an open acknowledgment of the use of fake news: Boris Johnson’s farcical little smiles during the Brexit debate a few days before the referendum; Donald Trump’s speculative – and extremely imaginative – accusations about the primary system being rigged, then later saying “”You’ve been hearing me say it’s a rigged system. But now I don’t say it anymore because I won. Okay? It’s true. You know, now I don’t care.” It’s dangerous how socially acceptable lying has become.

With the web of deceit getting larger and more uncontrollable than ever before, and a general election on the horizon, there has never been a more important time for citizen journalists to enter the foray to impartially and independently collect, report and distribute content. If not for themselves, but to combat the “real fake news” that most of us seem to acknowledge and accept.

Technology has Created a Power Shift

The advent of smart phones has given power to the people. The presence, speed and accessibility allows the everyday citizen to report and break news to a global audience faster than traditional journalists, and much faster than news reporters. This has resulted in a society that’s more politically active than ever before (and that’s a good thing.)

While some will argue that untrained citizens are more at liberty to obscure information and spread opinion rather than truth; others will retaliate, stating that politically aligned press already tilt the scales to support their own agenda anyway. Regardless, both opinions prove that there is a total lack-of-faith in modern journalism. Whichever think-tank you subscribe to, there’s no denying that citizen journalism is where the news is heading. Surely it makes more sense to go with the grain than against the grain?

The Western world is currently in the midst of a huge political shakeup, with politicians no longer playing up to establishment rules. But the facts are there for those of us who wish to seek them. So if you feel compelled to do your bit and help your own inner circles to stay informed (perhaps beyond), build a website, start a blog and, most importantly… do your research!