Article by Mike Hess.
Is anyone else struck by the overwhelming experience of(CNN) -- Monday, August 15, 2011, is a day that should forever change the way reality television is produced.
Chances are, though, nothing will change.
What's so important about August 15? It was the day that put in full view the life-shattering impact that reality shows can have among couples and families on the brink. For one reality show couple, the news that day was about an ending point for a wild ride that led to separation. For the other couple, the news was about a fatality.
Russell Armstrong apparently ended his own life after years of marital and financial turmoil. The story line of Armstrong and his wife, Taylor, on the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" franchise was one of tension, distance and a sense of distrust. The feelings were obviously deeply rooted long before the cameras starting rolling, and the show probably didn't help the situation.
But America lapped it up.
On July 15, the couple announced they were divorcing. On August 15, Russell was dead, apparently by his own hands.
Weeks before his suicide, Russell said to People.com: "When you get a TV show involved and all the pressure, it just takes it to a whole new level. We were pushed to extremes."
If we as television viewers don't feel bad for seeing what happened to Jon and Kate via reality TV fame, then surely everyone -- viewers, networks, reality show participants themselves -- is due for a good, hard look at the current formula of couple-based reality television and the repercussions of the medium.
Viewers want dirty, nasty, shameful reality television, whether it's in the form of dysfunctional families, ridiculous amounts of children or someone living in a pile of their own filth. Sure, there are good-natured shows like "Giuliana and Bill" and "Bethenny Ever After," but face it -- they're kind of boring when put up against table-flipping, drunken brawls and over-the-top drama for people to live through vicariously.
But as we saw this week, it all comes with a cost.
1)IRONY (You're not exactly involved in the mental health industry, are you Mike Hess? And the many spotlight-related deaths in our culture's morbid, decades-long celebrity obsession taught you nothing until this man's death... a man most of us have never even heard of? This is your moral tipping point? Really? Observe my "fuh rill?" face ---> )
2)Captain Obvious strikes again! (Un)reality shows are damaging to viewers and participants? Well no sh*t Sherlock, nothing gets past you.
3)That this man's journalistic style is comparable to a blubbering thirteen year old girl's Lisa Frank diary scribblings.
4) This man wants (very vague and unspecified) change (but certainly doesn't plan on making a career change and is clearly in a blameless position and is merely a cog in the Hollywood machine and cannot help that he barely has the introspective abilities of a chihuahua).
5) Seriously CNN, this is front page material? Seriously?!
6) all of the above