A reader writes:
Thank you, thank you, thank you; a thousand times thank you. You managed to put into words a feeling that churns in the pit of my stomach every time I watch the Real Housewives for more than a few seconds. You may also have instigated some marital trouble for me, as I immediately forwarded your post to my wife and mother-in-law, who are avid watchers of the show. In our many heated discussions about the merits (or utter lack thereof) of Bravo TV, I have often argued that they are the moral equivalent of pornography, if only to try and get my wife to understand why I get so disgusted that the network is often on TWO TVs in our house, running ambient in the background (i.e. "how would you like it if I had porn playing throughout the house while I did chores?"). So thank you for lending a little more support to my argument.
A few years ago I started to wonder if Bravo TV isn’t our modern day form of gladiator combat – a means for reveling in the suffering and misfortune of others while assuring ourselves that, whatever our own transgressions, at least we aren’t as bad off as those people.
Sadly, I also wonder if such culturally-celebrated schadenfreude is not a bellweather for a culture in decline. Since we can’t, these days, get away with throwing people into a ring to watch them physically eviscerate one another (at least not yet …), we orchestrate the same sort of savagery in the emotional arena for all to gawk at and deplore. Sometimes even that barrier seems to fall, as the suicide of Russell Armstrong (sad that I know his name) would attest.
I have a great fear for modern humanity that, ten thousand years from now, when the aliens are picking through the rubble of what was once a great and flourishing society, an old DVD of the Real Housewives will be all they can manage to restore, and all that was beautiful about human culture will be reduced to what it was at its worst.
"What do you think happened to these people, Zorgon?"
"Oh. Well, it was probably for the best then …"