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Real World’ trivializes sex

By Molly Beck

The Daily Vidette

NORMAL, Ill. – Unless your life consists of taking showers with roommates and drinking alcohol every single night until walking is a strenuous sport, then MTV is lying to us.

“The Real World” has evolved into anything but. The first reality television show ever made has taken an opportunity to exploit seven people in a way that would benefit its viewers and turned it into just another television show about sex.

Once upon a time, around the time I was entering junior high and discovering all sorts of things about the world like boys and make-up, I began watching “The Real World.”

During this season, I watched as seven strangers formed actual or at least convincing relationships as they dealt with one of their roommate’s personal battle with being homosexual and living with AIDS.

Even after 13 years, I still remember Pedro Zamora’s name. I also remember Judd the “bed-wetting liberal,” Pam the medical student, Rachel, a graduate from Arizona State, Cory the virgin, Mohammed the musician and Jo, the replacement for Puck. Everyone remembers Puck.

This group of strangers dealt with issues that people actually experience, such as a friend dealing with a life-threatening illness as well as that friend’s subsequent passing.

The “Real World – San Francisco” taught me a lot about life in that regard, since I had never experienced anything Earth shattering in my 10 years of existence.

For some reason, genuine life lessons didn’t make for good TV, however. After that season, the “Real World” casting directors decided intelligent, moral and interesting people were boring.

As each season passed, the amount of actual reality on the show declined.

Each year, the people chosen were as shallow as they were attractive.

Now, this season, The “Real World” has deteriorated into nothing but drinking and sleeping around.

At one point, one of the men on the show had a mother who passed away, and as far as I know, that’s the only event that has come close to being worthy of television show supposedly representing reality.

Since the San Francisco cast, you can see the devolution of “The Real World.” What was once an interesting show with interesting, average-looking people has turned into a boring, shallow show with boring, shallow attractive people.

Why?

You don’t have to look very far for the answer.

This might come as a surprise to someone younger or who grew up without cable television, but MTV used to actually fulfill its name and play music videos.

Since then, reality television has overtaken MTV and one thing a lot of their shows have in common is their devotion to keeping sex as their focus.

Shows such as “Laguna Beach,” “Next” and “Date My Mom” are watched each week religiously alongside other network’s shows. The most popular shows in the past five years have been centered on sex.

Any TV critic or anyone with a brain for that matter will tell you that sex is one of the major overlying themes in popular television as seen in “Desperate Housewives,” “The O.C.” and “Sex and the City” because after all, sex sells.

But for what price?

Living in a society that celebrates sexual promiscuity, rather than addressing the dangers of it, poses a very large problem that no one but parents, doctors or the religious community want to talk about.

I have always been in support of the least amount of regulation and laws as possible, including and especially social ones.

However, sex is an issue heavily ignored analytically. The celebration of sex via television is not inherently destructive, but I fear the common message conveyed is.

Many of the aforementioned shows refer to sex casually and consider it part of a normal dating relationship.

This I have no problem with, but when the dating relationship these television shows present is only one or two dates – that’s a problem.

Not in the sense that I think people should wear chastity belts before they’re married, although that’s probably the safest way to live. No, in the sense that television is creating a society where the absence of sex is weird. Sex doesn’t have to be sacred but it also doesn’t have to be considered at the same level of intimacy as handholding.

Either way, television isn’t the place to decide.

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