The Kardashians announced this week that they are bringing an end to their reality television show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
They rose to global stardom off the back of a sex tape featuring Kim Kardashian and singer Ray J that surfaced on the net in 2007. Over the last 13 years, they have captivated couch potatoes from around the globe, as they gave the world an eye-opening window into the world of the rich and famous.
They have ridden the wave of reality television that has become commonplace in society. As the Kardashian wave hits point break, I’m hoping that this is the beginning of the end for reality television shows. Here’s why.
If you, like me, prefer books to the box, you may have read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a story of a dystopian society where books are banned. The book was turned into a watered-down film in recent years yet Bradbury’s description of the society of the future was uncanny. He coined the phrase “parlour family” to describe the television sets that would hang on the walls of our homes. How people would live vicariously through the lives of others projected into their living rooms through televisions. How these people would come to be viewed as part of the family. Most importantly, how their parlour family would mean more to them than people in the real world.
And I guess the Kardashian family have brought this piece of fiction into reality. Instead of living, we can watch others live and become part of their family.
So, why is it unhealthy for us to live vicariously by watching people on television?
Whenever a person tells me they are unhappy in their daily life or they don’t feel passionate or have any hobbies that make them feel good, i.e. they don’t feel truly alive, I will ask them, “What do you do in your free time?” The answer is usually, “I crash out and watch television.”
Crash out is the operative word because watching television has become the number one soul-sucking hobby of our time. Instead of living, we watch other people live, especially when we watch soap operas or reality shows. Watching television has the ability to put us into an apathetic state.
Apathy is a lack of feeling. A numbness. A void. A massive hole inside. It’s all about lack. A lack of connection to life. Apathy turns people into zombies because if we are not feeling, we are not living. In turn, if we are not feeling, we won’t care for one another or the world we live in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good movie. I enjoy documentaries and period series from times gone by. I like to say that I watch a show or film rather than watch television because I don’t switch on the television just for the sake of it. If I have time on my hands, then I have time to do activities that give me pleasure and energy rather than “crashing” out.
I’ve yet to see a person get up off the couch after watch television as a hobby with passion, energy, and zest for life. The little box that has become the centre of our living room sucks our soul dry because it depletes our energy. In turn, we don’t feel emotions.
The Kardashians project a value system that is based on their outward appearance and possessions to millions of people around the world. They encourage their fans to adopt a similar value system, where success is measured on how we look and what we own, knowing full well that the vast majority of us will never be able to attain this type of success. Yet, from the limited number of occasions I’ve watched the Kardashians, their value system and idea of success hasn’t brought them happiness. Far from it. They are as dysfunctional as the rest of us.
Even worse, they don’t give a damn about the world we live in. They belong to the me, me, me culture that runs through our society. A culture that stops us from caring about one another and the planet.
Their rise to success off the back of a sex tape sends out the wrong signal to their fans, especially their more impressionable younger followers. How many young woman have followed in the footsteps of Kim Kardashian into the world of sex work expecting their world to be transformed when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Which is why I’m hoping that the end of Keeping Up With The Kardashians signals the beginning of the end of reality television shows. As the Kardashians crash out of our lives, let’s hope more of us get off the couch. It’s never too late to start living again.
(c) Samantha Wilson. All Rights Reserved. 2020