Reality Show

25 August 2009

We have started to get some doubts about the reality show we are in. First – in many years there have been no evictions. Second – the tasks they set are so different than in the other shows. Some of the theatre projects I am involved in (for example) – many of the productions take six months to complete. Any reality show I ever saw the tasks don't take more than a week, mostly lasting a day or so. Participants might be asked to stage a pantomime in a garden, or to learn and perform comical monologues… but the kind of avant garde stuff I'm required to do most of the time is another thing altogether. The job my brother does is so completely different to mine that it's hard to see how we are being judged side by side. I am not complaining that it's not fair – just saying that it makes no sense. At the very least we are starting to think that the show we are in has a very different structure to say Big Brother or I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (or Top Model or Beauty & The Beast) and makes quite different demands on our time and our skills. Third – no diary room or confession cam. In fact the house has no camera installations at all that we are aware of, tho we assume of course that there are video recording systems concealed somewhere/somehow – otherwise the whole of what we're doing here (and all the great material we are generating day in day out) would be wasted, no? Fourth. No shouting or applause from outside the house at night (apart from the drunks etc). In fact there are so few restrictions on our movements that the whole concept of the shows' location – supposedly or at least conventionally 'a house' –  is a bit nebulous. Some people reckon it's hard to say that X or Y are still 'competing' if they go on holiday to France for several weeks any time they feel like it? Or perhaps their alleged holiday is a ruse, stunt or invention of the production company running the show, a device designed to put pressure on those of us who remain? But who remains and why in any case? The mechanisms lack any kind of transparency at our end. Perhaps the viewers get more info than we do. Similar questions have been raised about the economic downturn and the so-called swine flu rumoured to be sweeping the city outside – none of us really feels confident that these events have much integrity, although the scale of them (and the potential complexity of simulating them), as well as their as-yet-entirely nebulous impact on daily life in the 'house' make them at least questionable (and surely dis-economic) as effective interventions. Finally we're drawn to discuss the severity of some of the tasks or challenges. In 2004 I underwent two bouts of serious cardiac surgery and long periods in the hospital, as well as long times recovering at home in the house. As 'challenges' for a contestant in a reality show these seem dangerous, exaggerated and even irresponsible. Some contestants I met in the hospital later died as a result of  their ordeal. Last night Z wrote a long letter to the producers of the show and has posted it in several of the windows since we lack any established mode of contact with them, demanding both an explanation of the rules and a complete reform and reinvigoration of the structure. As yet we have heard nothing.