Anthony Asadullah Samad

*It’s interesting that the conflictions of society are the real events of the day. Reality is playing out right in front of our eyes. What America thinks is “reality,” these days, is not really reality…it’s entertainment. This new entertainment genre is the dominant genre on television. We love to see people eat things and get sick, get punked and pranked, deceive each other to survive on an island, get fired, get their home and bodies made over, be the last occupant of the “Big Brother” house, find love and even watch dysfunctional people live their dysfunctional lives…and we call them “real wives” of whatever when, in fact, there’s nothing real about them.

At a time when the world is falling apart, American society loses itself in the false realities of television made to strip us of our money and any intellectual dignity we may have left. Reality television is low information entertainment supposedly based around the psychology of real life or “keeping it real.” Its simplicity is its attraction to a dumbed down public with what pundits call a “low information” capacity. Even politics targets its issues, its ideology and its spin (articulation) toward low information voters. The nation has been ripped off, its capital system exploited, their homes taken, their jobs transferred overseas while the public is stuck on stupid flooded with reality television programming produced cheaply to save media conglomerates money. Another exploitation of the public, but more like a continuation of insulting the public’s intelligence. At what point does the public understand that reality on television isn’t really “reality” in real life. How about this week? The biggest news event of the week? The filing for divorce of Kim Kardashian. Really!!??

This whole Kardashian craze is perhaps the biggest demonstration of how contrived reality distorts reality. This 72 day marriage was preceded by nearly a year of hype suggests that this reality “star,” who has made a career of branding herself as the girlfriend of athletes and entertainers, may have pulled off the biggest publicity stunt of the last decade. The only thing real about this Kardashian was the on-line porn tape that got millions of hits and branded her as “the golddigger” that everybody wanted to be like. Showing young girls how to trap a rich man, without substance, is a needed skill set for a low information public and this particular Kardashian played to it. It is every girls dream to catch an NBA player or an NFL player, and these Kardashians rope em in like steers in a rodeo show. Their reality has been to make the realities of hyper-consumerism the “glamorous life” for millions to desire, as fashion, cosmetics and television tap into their “pop culture” following that now represents millions on Facebook and Twitter. A “reality” brand that corporations now pay her millions to reach.

One by one we witness “a day in the life” reality show pop up based on the public’s willingness to distract themselves from life’s real realities. It isn’t until one is nearly brain dead that they come to realize this reality is just a mental drain on our emotions, with no intellectual return beyond possibly getting famous, and even paid, to be more outrageous than the last reality show you watched. To be out of the public eye, in many industries, is to be deemed irrelevant. But if the only way you can be relevant is to be a reality TV star, then really? How relevant are you? Conscious rap group Public Enemy star, Flava Flav, is more relevant in the rap genre than the reality T.V. genre. “Flava of Love” casting him as some kind of Casanova was hardly believable..but somehow its outrageousness made people watch it. And the women that made fools of themselves became reality TV stars. It was Flava Flav that once said, “You can’t stop reality from being real.” At the time he meant that the reality of America’s race construct can’t be hidden by not talking about it. Today it would mean that you can’t make sense out of something that is senseless. If it doesn’t make sense, why would you tell us that it does?

The only reason you would is because it makes money, and there are some that believe that if it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense. To those who say that, I say, “Slavery didn’t make sense either…but it made money, not for those who were willing or unwilling to be exploited…but for those who exploited them. Reality television is the same, making money for people who are willing to be exploited for fame, or willing to exploit themselves just to remain in the public eye. It is a sad commentary on America culture. Not because it exists, but because it is popular and in demand.

America has some real problems as its reality is grabbing most Americans by the throats. None of them will be resolved by Kim Kardashian’s multi-million dollar wedding or her apology to her fans over her less than three month divorce filing. I bet you one thing, though. I bet she keeps the gifts…her wedding was real life, even though it was supposed to be good reality television. They didn’t mix…Real life and false realities rarely do.

Hopefully, America can now tell the difference

Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st  Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at [email protected].