Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "Show" Factor

I've been thinking about the word "Show" for a while now. The reason being I feel shows are being run a lot these days. In classical dictionaries, the word is usually used as the verb for demonstrating something or as a program such as a TV show. In reality there seems to be new usages for this word, for example when we say:" .. that guys is running a show" or "its just a show, it is not real". Although both statements are based on the same semantic foundations, lets start from the second one. It is "not real" it is a "show". So is a show something which is not real? What is really real? By "not real" it seems that we really mean something which is planned before and is supposed to happen the way it does, something which does not have elements of uncertainty and is absolutely certain. If at least two parties interact, there are three possibilities regarding being pre-planned or pre-scripted. Sometimes both parties have a plan, they both do based on a script, they both run a show, like a movie where the director and the actor are running the show. In some cases one side has a plan the other side doesn't and can be caught be elements of surprise. An example for this could be a game show where the host is acting based on a script and the contestants are experiencing randomness. One side runs the show, the other side is played by the show. In the third case, both sides act without a pre arranged plan when we can say that no one is running a show, like a sports game for example.
So one parameter here which can define whether something is a show is determinism. The more something is a show, the more deterministic it is going to be.
We do watch shows which are of the first kind, like movies, although we know that everybody there in the movie is running a show, we still like to watch it (most of the times), the reason here could be because we feel connected with the chain of events there, we find similar patterns and hence our pattern matching pleasures get satisfied or we admire the aesthetical features of the shots we see on the screen or we just like to watch a specific actress or actor and other reasons... however not all TV programs can be like that and there are the ones which one side or both sides are not running a show, such as game shows, talk shows, reality shows or sports events. In the case of reality shows and talk shows, we usually see normal people, nothing really exciting about that, but we watch them get engaged in stuff we usually do not see in our daily lives and their reactions, being real, becomes very interesting for us and bolts us down to the sofa in front of the TV. The reality factor has a very special excitement in it. So us as the watchers want the program event (contest, talk, competition ...) to be as real as possible in order for us to watch. What about the producers of the program? Assuming we believe it is real, would they rather have determinism in it or randomness? I bet they do not welcome any risks in their program and they would love to be able to control every part of it and make it the way they want, the way they feel the audience want, and this would mean if they can somehow make it into a full show where the other side runs based on a script, then determinism kicks in and they can be sure their investments can pay off big time. So the tendency of such programs is to go towards the full show attractor. And this is what we see. I have yet been able to find one TV reality show which in fact has something real in it. But the magic is to fool the audience and hide this fact that both sides are running a deterministc script, otherwise nobody would want to watch losers act on these programs. Scary part can be when some events which both sides shouldn't run a show, such as sports games lean towards this show factor and fall in its trap. Boxing matches!? Football games? One genre has been rather accepted to fall into this category, Pro Wrestling. Who would want to wait and see what randomness brings us when you can go ahead and make what people want happen? Lets show them what they want, the reality might not really be that interesing. Lets amuse them the way we know. Real life is not amusing 24x7. Lets run the show.
Now this shouldn't happen only on TV. Governments can run a show for their poeple, they can run shows for other Governments which they too take part in the show, parents can run a show for their children, friends can run a show for other friends, its just everywhere, its there to kill the randomness, to force us into the box, we're so afraid of uncertainty and can't stand it even a bit. The society runs a show and we know we are part of it, the rules define this show, all should go according to plans, where is the freedom in a show? Whats the use of freedom when you need to control? The show must go on!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Amiross,

With all the respect, if you would make use of spacing, it would be easier to read your post.