Méadhbh Crowley investigates the world’s revived interest in reality television and it’s stars.
Although we may think reality television is the invention of the 21st century, believe it or not the first reality television show was first broadcast nearly 80 years ago in the US. The first “reality” show, Candid Camera, captivated the world and was one of the most watch shows at the time, as viewers saw for the first time, ordinary people not actors or news readers on their television sets. The show saw members of the public being pranked by the show’s presenter Allen Frunt, when the prank was revealed he would then say the iconic catchphrase “You’ve been on Candid Camera”. The show ran for almost 60 years and has been quoted as being the origin of all reality shows today.
From it’s simple origins, reality television seems to escalate in the last number of years, with Big Brother, reactivating peoples interest in reality shows. Viewers watched them eat, sleep, fight, fall in love and use the bathroom and then made these ordinary people into celebrities. But why did we do this ? was it how unscripted and realistic the contestants were? or was it just our natural curiosity, asking what these people would do when they left the show.
Today we seem to idolise these reality stars and have put them on a pedestal, living a lifestyle we are funding through purchasing their merchandise, going to their nightclub appearances, attending their speaking engagements. Take for example Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the family first came to prevalence when their father Robert Kardashian defended OJ Simpson in the 1995 murder trial and later for Kim’s infamous sex tape with boyfriend Ray J. Whether we like it or not we all know every name of the Kardashian siblings, we know their relationship statuses, we know who they’re feuding with and who are their besties.
We may give out about how the Kardashians are in every newspaper, magazine, website but we only have our selves to blame for making them famous for being famous. We tune in to see how the family is doing, we’ve followed Kim and Kanye’s engagement, wedding and pregnancy woes, relationship breakdowns – Khloe and Lemar, Kourtney and Scott, Kris and Caitlyn and watched Kylie and Kendall grow up in front of our eyes. We all have a vested interest in their lives, we know them even better than our own relatives.
Thanks to our obsession over 12 million people world wide tune in on a weekly basis to watch the show, 22.8 million people have downloaded Kim Kardashian Hollywood and they are worth over $200 million as a family. We have created the celebrities and they in turn have created an industry around it, when will our obsession end or have we already gone too far ?