Reality shows-a reality check for the soul?

In Living a Life Off-Center on January 29, 2011 at 4:56 am


A repost from my former editorial column in Super! of the Philippine Daily Inquirer back in 2005


What's real to you?

Keeping it real has never been such an Extra Challenge. We are riveted by man woman dynamics via Blind Dates, gripped by Survivor tactics during an Amazing Race, and have given an Ambush Makeover to the English language by breathing life to the term Queer-Eyed. Six years ago, a program on Average Joes leading a Simple Life desperately Playing It Straight as The Fab 5 show him ways of Starting Over would have been The Biggest Loser. Today, the reality genre has everyone hooked. Local media has gotten in on the game, trying to come up with their versions of what could create a new star, a new trend, a new you. I admit an addiction to American Idol, and I can’t stand the fact that being Asia bound I can’t vote! As I live vicariously through those who can carry a tune (unlike me) I do wonder what the impact is of real TV on one’s self esteem.

Staying real (and alive) is no easy feat. Faking it till you make it is the new battle cry of the TV generation. While our parents’ generation was about making a stand, the 00s is all about making it to the next stage of The Apprentice/ The Contender etc. People are willing to cheat, lie, steal, make complete morons out of themselves for a little screen time. Getting your fifteen minutes of fame has never been easier. As one PR mogul has put it, as long as you can get in front of a press camera, you got your shot. In the pursuit of glamour and stature most are willing to be herded like a flock of sheep to be sheared of the very idiosyncrasies that make them authentic. Hair that was once free to frizz and curl at will is rebonded down to resemble road kill. Skin that was born with natural pigmentation and a healthy glow has been scrubbed and bleached to uncooked chicken pallor. Almost every VJ on display seems to have graduated from the “accent = talent” school of hosting.

We are surrounded by fakes. Imitations, phoneys, copies and fabrications. From accessories to lifestyles, we don’t necessarily have to get the real thing as long as it can fool a captive audience for a while. A person with a keen eye and the hunting skills of a Strider can transform Greenhills into via Condotti. Big deal you say, everyone loves a bargain. Sure, but nobody loves a fake. Even if you’re LV armored, a poor attitude towards yourself and your fellow men will eventually cause a couple of chinks. If your closest friend bases friendship on what’s in your closet, then maybe you should go shopping for a new friend. Seriously, there’s only ONE kind of friend, and class A, B or C still doesn’t mean REAL.


You cannot walk three steps inside the hottest club without bumping (and bouncing off) a silicon seduced chest. (Not necessarily belonging to a female). “Beso-beso” can now be done from great distances thanks to collagen fattened lips. You may pass a series of expressionless Botoxed faces (smiling has never been so taboo) or suddenly notice that your date has a couple of bumpity bumps on certain areas of her nose. (No, they’re not zits) People of all ages and genders are so into quick fixes, and I’m not even talking recreational drugs.

This is not an article written to pass judgment. If you happen to be a savvy shopper and can walk through a milieu of “tiangges” blindfolded and still come out with fashion treasures, then kudos to you. Just bear in mind that the clothes never ever make the person. Even if you blind your peers with the latest, brightest bling, they won’t be blind forever. The dullness of your spirit will (ironically) shine through. Plastic surgery, (do you recall what was implied when a person was called plastic?) is a choice. Just manage your expectations; a new body still has the same old heart beating inside of it. How are you trying to cosmetically enhance that part of yourself? If your self esteem is directly proportional to the amount of body fat you possess, then you are in for some pretty tough times. Psychologist Carl Jung said “If you don’t learn to love your defects they will never go away.”

Some of you may view this as a reality check. Can you remember the last time when all it took was YOU to affirm your authentic self? Does support for your endeavors only come from the standards you meet dictated by your peers? Or do you make your own rules? If you were to remove the outer trappings that bind you, would you still feel this good about yourself, if you voiced out to those around you what you really thought, would you get voted off the island? Who do you hang out with? Is it possible that you have grown weary of talking about the same people, the same parties, the same things over and over again? Now think about it, if the life you and your friends lead was truly fabulous, why would you have time to pay attention to those whose lives aren’t?

As the search for self is a continuous process you can remember this: No matter how well staged your life seems to be, eventually, reality shows. Hope you win.

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