I just read an article in the March 2004 issue of Harper’s Magazine by Francine Prose titled, “Voting Deomcracy Off The Island: Reality TV and the Republican Ethos.”
It’s a rather long, impassioned exploration of the messages and influence of reality tv programs that I found quite disturbing, especially given the popularity, growth, and perceived innocuousness of such programs. She notes incentives for deceit and dishonesty; institutionalized deceit on the part of producers; cruelty and humor at the expense of others; “morality as an albatross or obstacle” to success; that “every human being can and will do anything for money” [italics hers]; and the reduction of marriage to seduction and consumerist spectacle.
[Note: Prose doesn't, I feel, make her case that these values are intrinsically Republican. Corporate, yes. Republican, not really. GOP'ers can safely read it while
on the train driving their Hummers. ;) ]
I never watch reality tv, or more accurately, “reality tv,” and didn’t know who Ryan and Trista were (or why they were on the cover of People every time I went to the store), but a series about The Bachelorette‘s $7mm wedding, including “the most expensive bridal shoe in the history of the world” [??] seems about as alien and demeaning to my ideals of marriage as I can imagine.
These depictions of marriage strike me as both demeaning and utterly alien to a sincerely held LDS belief of eternal marriage, temple marriage.