Reality and Television

March 5th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 12: 23 (NLT)

23 The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge,
      but fools broadcast their foolishness.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Television is the telescope and the microscope of our culture.  All across our nation, people of all ages spend hours of their days staring at that little glowing box . . . or in most cases, that large flat screen that hangs on their wall.  This is not a discourse on the evils and dangers of excessive television watching.  TV isn’t all bad.  Like anything else in life, it’s quality or detriment is usually determined by the one who pushes the buttons.

That being said, let’s delve into some cultural observations about the content on our little digital friends.  That mysterious component of life known as entertainment is an elusive art.  Any old amateur can’t just produce entertainment.  If you’ve ever been around a truly “unfunny” person who tries with all their might to produce comedy, then you know what I’m talking about.  In like fashion, if you’ve ever witnessed a horrific dramatic actor attempting to produce quality drama with their overdone accents or inept movements, again you get it.

Entertainment begins in the mind of a person who understands the craft.  Producers.  Writers.  Directors.  Comedians.  Somewhere around a huge table right now, a team of professionals are batting back and forth concepts that could be winners on the small screen.  Oddly enough, an examination of what seems to be popular today will help lead them to the next big idea.

So what things are entertaining in our culture?  Well, superpowers seem to hit the spot pretty nicely.  Heroes is one of my favorite shows with a dozen online spinoffs and blockbuster movie-like premiers.  What’s the premise?  Ordinary, flawed people who must deal the a newfound power.

Another point of entertainment is the supernatural and mysterious . . . like the show Lost.  Trying to unravel the twisted plot and unexpected character details leaves viewers pondering the possibilities.  Again, the story centers around the flaws of people and how they affect each other.

Reality television . . . now we’re getting somewhere!  Reality shows take on many different forms, but most of them center either on “real life” (yeah right) drama between individuals who are sharing a house or a situation, or they are competitive and seek to eliminate contestants each week until only one remains.  Again, without the absolutely ridiculous characters on these shows . . . like Tatiana Del Toro in this season of American Idol, these shows would be less entertaining.  Even though the American people voted her off the show, the producers and judges brought her back for another vote. Why?  Because her eccentric, annoying laugh and mannerisms are entertaining to people . . . amusing, if you will.  So we watch, usually in protest of the foolishness; yet the foolishness is what we enjoy the most.  Maybe that’s why the horrible and hilarious out- takes from the Idol auditions are still the most popular part of the show.

All in all, the flaws and the foolishness of people create the scenarios for the best entertainment. Drama, comedy, or reality . . . it rings true for all of them.  Do you think you would enjoy a show where all of the characters had it all together all the time?  No, there would be no conflict and nothing to be entertained by.  What if all the Idol contestants were phenomenal singers?  Again, why would we watch to see who is the best?

This passage, written thousands of years ago, is still accurate in our culture today.  “The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness.”  The second part is easy to see.  Foolish people have no problem letting their foolishness be broadcasted all around the world.  It’s a case of “any attention is good attention.”  Being known for your foolishness is a temporary and tenuous moment of fame.  Those who truly understand entertainment will gladly let the foolish be exploited if they’re willing.  It produces good ratings.

Wisdom, on the other hand, is a little less entertaining.  Sure, there are shows where knowledge is valued in order to win a prize.  But in the end, it’s still most people’s lack of knowledge that produces the entertaining moment . . . if they only would have known that one obscure fact, they would have won the million dollars!  For the vast majority of television shows, the wisest people . . . or at least the informed ones . . . are usually behind the camera, not in front of it.  There are always exceptions. 

Apart from television, the truth remains.  Those with true wisdom aren’t out to “make a show” of everything they know.  They use discretion.  They possess humility.  Some would even say they show some class.  Real wisdom doesn’t have to be proclaimed to be authentic; it exists as it’s own entity within the walls of confidence and perspective.

If I do gain some wisdom, I hope I have the added wisdom to not have to make a show of it to the world.  As my father-in-law says of football players who dance excessively when they reach the end zone: “act like you’ve been there before.”

Now that’s entertainment.



~ by johndriver on March 5, 2009.

One Response to “Reality and Television”

  1. This made me think of 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” When we show off what we know, we are not showing love. More than anything, God has called us to love one another. This is as simply as I can put it. When we are genuinely loving each other, we will have no desire to be boastful about our wisdom. We each have strengths. We each have weaknesses. As long as we are loving, we don’t have to worry about being boastful.

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