There is a theory in Physics and Cosmology known as the Multiverse, in which they hypothesise an infinite number of universes existing side by side. This is what we are referring to when we use the term Parallel Universe. If this hypothetical idea were ever to be proven, it would stand to reason that in at least one of these parallel universes the inhabitants of that world would have intellectually stimulating reality TV.
Their tv programming would be awash with fly on the wall shows about doctors volunteering in far flung places, orchestras, politics, artists, historians, scientists, teachers… You know, the polar opposite of what we have here on Earth. We could fool people into liking such things, think deep fying a documentary, but would there really be enough people watching to ensure the show’s survival?
One look at the television landscape would lead me to believe it would not. We are overrun with people watching other regular people simply exist. Apparently we want to watch housewives bring entitled crass to a new level, New Jersey people try and out Jersey each other, pawn shop owners pay a pittance for desperate people’s family heirlooms, and crab fishermen sometimes catching crabs and sometimes not catch anything over and over and over again.
The very worst of it all is Big Brother, where they take regular people, stick them in a house where they do regular people things, and other regular people watch the regular people doing regular people things all the while doing regular people things. And by regular people things I mean sitting around, eating and arguing with each other. How could you possibly take your eyes and ears away from that entertainment whirlwind?
Because this form of entertainment is so popular, I have given up arguing with people who enjoy these programs. I mean I could try and say that watching these shows will give you advanced zombie soul, cut your life expectancy by 5 years, give you cancer of the eyes, turn you into a stupider version of your already stupid self, or make your genitals shoot flames, in an effort to stop people watching this audiovisual vomit. But I won’t. What good would it do?
So instead I have a suggestion that will appeal to both those that watch and those that would rather be stuck in a boat on the river styx with Donald Trump for eternity. My idea came to me when I tried to watch a program that was part of Shark Week. All of the shows had hyperbolic names like Island Of The Sharks and so forth. After several minutes a voice in the back of my head said this is pointless, they are going to have zero footage of a human fighting a shark, let alone someone being eaten by one.
This honest primal realisation, coupled with a history of falling into youtube vortexes of videos with themes like best faceplants, bullies getting owned, loudest crashes, biggest explosions or idiots injuring themselves, led me to the understand that we are deeply drawn to danger. We know that when we look at a tightrope walker, in the back of our minds we do so because he might fall. I say it’s worse than that; we actually want him to fall.
So how do we introduce this level of danger into something as mundane as Big Brother? I’ll tell you how in two words: Mike Tyson. I’ve thought this through to the point that I wouldn’t be able to miss an episode, so I will now go through my vision step by step.
1 – The Big Brother show format stays intact. We need about a dozen regular people, well regular here being a relative term seeing as any person who even thinks of being a contestant on the show is a narcissistic sociopath. The weekly voting a contestant off remains.
2 – We introduce the contestants to their house mate Mike Tyson. The contestants are aware that Mike will be in the house living with them, for the entire duration of the show. He is immune from the public vote. He is a constant. The contestants are also aware of his mandate, and the show’s selling point – At some point, every 2 days, the producers instruct Mike to punch one of the contestants, full force, anywhere on their body. The producers pick the contestant. Mike has no say in the matter. He must punch with all of his might. Only the producers and Mike know who he is going to have to injure. The viewers have no idea.
3 – The constant threat of violence, one that is known by both the audience and contestants, creates an air of giddy tension. From a ratings point of view, it’s a win, as nobody knows when the blow will be struck. You’ll want to be watching when Mike unleashes an hellacious left hook to that one guy that thinks he’s the shit. Maybe Mike socks him when the guy is chatting up that girl he likes. Maybe he’s waiting behind the shower curtain? Wait, has anyone seen Mike? Is he planning a sneak attack?
4 – Because the show is based around our ability to hate on or identify with the characters in the house, you become even more emotionally invested in the show. For example no one wants Mike to hit that quiet, sweetheart of a guy or girl. You know the one that has only nice things to say, and never gets involved in any of the arguments. Well guess what? They’re today’s victim. And before you say this is barbaric, I refer you to point number 1: The desire to be a contestant on Big Brother is not one that a well adjusted, likeable person should have. If they want fame for simply being on TV with no actual talent, then they must suffer for their art…
5 – There is no limit to how many times the producers can choose to target any one individual.
Think of the drama, the anticipation. The sense of faux outrage when the nice one gets got, the glee in seeing the villain of the house being given his comeuppance. Think of the viral video numbers, the vines of the punches. Social media would explode after each attack.
After 12 weeks of getting the living shit punched out of them, I for one think the winner would deserve all the celebrity (read notoriety) they get from the whole experience.
Now that’s Reality TV I could get behind.