It's amazing how mushy our perception of the word "reality" is.
Just a couple of days ago, I was working out at the gym with a friend, and I noticed that while she was on the treadmill, she was watching a television show that seemed mostly to be composed of heavily made-up women yelling at each other. After we were done, I asked her what movie she'd been watching, and she looked sheepish and said, "It wasn't a movie. It was Real Housewives of New Jersey."
After discussing it for a little while, she agreed that the word "Real" in the title might be a misnomer.
We now have dozens of "reality" shows, from Survivor to Jersey Shore to Sister Wives to Celebrity Apprentice. The women-yelling genre has, apparently, spread from New Jersey, and there are now Real Housewives shows in Miami, Orange County, Atlanta, New York, and Beverly Hills.
The issue, of course, is that none of these shows are "real." All of them have staged, stylized action, and many of them work under artificial rules ("vote one person off the island every week"). So right from the get-go, it's apparent that their definition of "reality" isn't exactly what you'd find in The Concise Oxford.
And now, to add a further layer of unreality to the whole thing, we have a "reality show" featuring a contest between psychics. (Source)
A dozen alleged psychics, amongst them "top Scottish medium" June Field, will travel to the Ukraine this summer to to participate in a woo-off. Every week, the psychics will do their stuff -- do readings, hold seances, channel spirits -- and a panel of judges will eliminate one a week until the World's Best Psychic is the only woo-woo left standing. (The winner also receives a cash prize of a little over $30,000.)
At this juncture, I should probably mention that one of the judges will be Uri Geller -- the "psychic" whose alleged telekinetic ability so conspicuously failed him on The Tonight Show, when Johnny Carson wouldn't allow him to bring in his own set of pre-prepared spoons to bend. Geller's excuse, of course, was that Carson's skepticism was "interfering with the atmosphere."
Um, no, Mr. Geller -- you are the one who is claiming to be able to interfere mentally with stuff at a distance, without touching it. Carson knew it was a fake.
So the whole thing kind of lacks credibility points right from the outset. Field, however, is tickled by her being chosen to participate, although she told reporters for The Daily Record that she couldn't predict how she was going to do, which is a little ironic, considering.
"I’m keen to do the show for the exposure it will bring but also to prove to the doubters that there’s more to this world than meets the eye," she said.
And how, exactly, will this prove anything? To anyone who is a real skeptic, a staged, contrived television show, with a panel of judges who (considering the only one of their number mentioned by name) aren't exactly unbiased, won't prove anything except what a huge moneymaker psychic nonsense is. Given all the hundreds of thousands of dollars that is bilked from the public annually by these people, it's not like we needed a "reality show" to prove that.
So, honestly, I'm certain that this will turn out to be even less real than Real Housewives of New Jersey. I wonder if there will be scenes of the psychics wearing lots of make up, yelling at each other, or possibly telekinetically pushing each other around and bending up each other's silverware. Because that might be worth watching just from a comedic standpoint.