So, unless I'm really mistaken about something, I just don't get the kerfuffle over a prompt on this past week's SAT that *shock horror* referenced reality TV. Via the New York Times college blog, here's the full prompt:
Reality television programs, which feature real people engaged in real activities rather than professional actors performing scripted scenes, are increasingly popular.It makes perfect sense to me. It’s a pair of semi-philosophical questions asked against the background of reality TV. It’s not looking for a summary of the last season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It’s not asking for a compare and contrast on the metaphysics of Snooki versus The Situation. Anybody should be able to write something based on what’s provided in the prompt.
These shows depict ordinary people competing in everything from singing and dancing to losing weight, or just living their everyday lives. Most people believe that the reality these shows portray is authentic, but they are being misled.
How authentic can these shows be when producers design challenges for the participants and then editors alter filmed scenes?
Do people benefit from forms of entertainment that show so-called reality, or are such forms of entertainment harmful?
It amuses me the number of people who object that the use of reality TV as a topic on the SAT because it somehow debases a standardized test. More amusing are the people who complain that, since they never watch anything as stupid as reality TV, how can they write an essay about it?
Look, I’m no fan of the reality TV boom. If it all disappeared tomorrow, I’d not miss it. And I know next to nothing about who’s on what show and doing what to whom. But I know what a force reality TV has been in the culture and the entertainment industry over the past decade or more. If someone is so out of touch that they aren’t aware of the entire genre, then writing a good essay for the SAT seems like that least of their problems.
But if you’re really that sheltered, that out to lunch, here’s everything you really need to know about reality TV, courtesy of Dave Chappelle:
|The Mad Real World - Introduction|
|The Mad Real World - Katie|
|The Mad Real World - Sleeper Hold|
|The Mad Real World - End|