Reality TV just gets scarier

What the hell is happening to our world? The descent of our pre-eminent entertainment medium into what has been termed reality TV (albeit it is usually so dreadfully stage-managed) has mirrored the descent of the global economy into fiscal madness.

At the outset, reality TV was kind of acceptable in a voyeuristic way (similar to masturbation which could be talked about but not actually in the context of one’s personal experience). Now, however, this disturbing trend has forced its way into what is seemingly mainstream programming. Take this evening’s repast on the five major Australian domestic networks.

SBS – the supposedly cultural channel for sophisticates – really gets down and dirty. It offers us “Blood and Guts: A history of surgery: Spare parts (Part 3 of 5)”. Now you’d really want to have finished din-dins first, eh? But later (after you’ve kept the entree and main course down), they offer “The operations: Surgery Live: Stomach”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but even with just a coffee, trawling through someone else’s abdomen and their various ‘collection bags’, shall we call them, is rather off-putting even in the abstract. Clearly SBS has no pretensions to being a ratings winner. So much for its original moniker as the Special Broadcasting Service. Very special, indeed!

But obviously fearful of an attack on its audience base, the Seven Network offers a charming alternative: “Inside a gunshot victim”. This delightful vignette offers us the chance to discover the impact of bullets on the human body. It even offers some freak who had seven bullets smash into his body – and was willing to detail all the gory bits for a global audience. Our education is now complete, thank you, Seven.

The Nine Network kind of wanted to maintain some kind of parity but didn’t wish to go so far as its competitors (you’d be foolish to assume for reasons of taste, given previous programming hideousness) and offered ”Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares”. Some of the language might remind you of the less salubrious parts of the stomach special on SBS so it’d be worth channel surfing for something else.

And our taxpayer-funded intellectual mainstay, the ABC, could not resist putting us off our food and offered an evening of domestic politics and current affairs. Now that’s true down-and-dirty reality TV!