George F. Will is well known for his conservative commentary and for his writings in the Washington Post as well as an analyst for ABC News. As one of the most prominent writers today George F. Will wrote “Reality Television: Oxymoron,” an essay about society losing their sense of principles and becoming more coarse. Will focuses on the idea that present day television viewers are drooling for more “violence, sexuality, and degradation” creating a mass market of idiocy (295).
George F. Will initiates his essay with a line that radio performer Fred Allen once said: “Imitation is the sincerest form of television” (293). Will supports the observation by providing us with an example of Fear Factor, which is an imitation show that got its idea from an MTV show, Jackass. Both Fear Factor and Jackass are among the international shows where participants impose acts of violence upon themselves while degrading ...view middle of the document...
Will demonstrates that in this era adults and children are becoming less distinguishable in the way they entertain themselves and with “the kinds of entertainments they are absorbed in” as a progress that has become a “more sophisticated delivery of stupidity” (294). Entertainers are obligated to pleasure this “unshockable society” by “ratcheting up the violence, sexuality, and degradation, becoming increasingly coarse,” and demeaning the “mass culture” (295).
Will proposes that television is a market where it supplies what the mass audience demands, therefore, causing a growth in “purveyors of perversity television” (295). Subsequently, Will compares television’s suppliers with heroin pushers, stating that both defend themselves by saying they are only providing what customers demand. Will holds producers accountable, saying there is not a “strong spontaneous demand for televised degradation” (295). Will then states that these television customers “amuse [themselves] into inanition” will later not be content with today’s violence and will later be demanding for a reality show where someone dies a violent death as in Russian roulette (296).
I’m of two minds about Will’s claim that reality television has gotten and will continue to degrade by lowering its standard values. On the one hand, I agree that reality shows have taken over television internationally in where what is considered normal today was shocking a few decades ago, and will continue to be that way. At the same time those reality shows are everywhere, so are many educational and inspiring reality shows that are popular throughout society such as Dog Whisperer, Ruby, and Three Wishes. George F. Will’s “Reality Television: Oxymoron” is so overly wrapped up on criticizing depraved reality shows that he forgets that there are didactic reality shows that introduce knowledge to society.
Will, George F. “Reality Television: Oxymoron.” They Say/I Say, with Readings. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton 2009. 241-255. Print.