Is it an accident that the proliferation of, ahem, opportunities to make a buck through the crucible of humiliating public spectacle seems to have grown by leaps and bounds at the same time that the purchasing power of the dollar has steadily collapsed? As the average American finds it more and more difficult to stay afloat, let alone get ahead, the temptation to gamble, with one's self respect as well as one's savings, has become, for quite a few, irresistible. How else are we to explain the growth of such desperate and false vehicles for self advancement as Big Brother, Fear Factor, Survivor, and, of course, casinos, ocurring at the same time that the standard of living of the average American has deteriorated.
At least casinos have the relative advantage of being somewhat private affairs, where one loses in front of the house and not in front of millions of TV viewers watching with Shadenfreude infused delight. I have no doubt that another factor that drives so many of hoi polloi to degrade themsleves on unreality based canned "entertainment" is the ramping up over the years of the culture of personality, where one is made to feel that the only humans that matter are those in the public eye, regardless of why they are in the public eye. We are, in short, a desperate culture, and while the proximate reason for the cancerous increase in unreal TV is due to an unhappy accident where a series of writer's and actor's strikes necessitated the manufacture of cheaply produced content, the reason it all persists is because there is an endless supply of folks who have no compunction about making complete asses of themselves, and, plenty of voyeurs who are only too happy to watch them do it.
Interestingly, the public display of desperate avariciousness started pretty much with the advent of television, some sixty years go, but the game show craze didn't really take off until the nineteen seventies, another period of economic distress, when game shows became ubiquitous on the boob tube as evidenced by such charmers as Let's Make a Deal, and The Price is Right. Of course today's offerings make those shows seem quaint, tame, really, by comparison. Ummm, the scent of progress, rarely has it smelled less sweet