Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sociology behind MTV reality shows

I have two new favorite TV shows.  First off is Celebrity Apprentice, which I started watching last year, and am already addicted to this year, after only two episodes.  Though I was seriously upset after this past episode.  Dionne Warwick is a nutjob, and should have gone home, in my humble opinion.  I'm predicting a John Rich win, just because I think he's smart, and playing sly already. And with the level of crazy on the women's team, I think all the men can coast for a little while.

My other favorite show is Bully Beatdown on MTV, which I randomly came across, and couldn't switch away.  People who are being bullied send in tapes of their bully treatment, and then they ask the bullies if they would be willing to fight a professional MMA fighter for the chance to win $10,000.  The caveat?  If they lose, the money goes to the kid they bullied.  I've only watched a handful of shows so far, but I like it for several reasons.

First, the bullies look like serious tools.  It makes bullying look like the most dumbass thing a person could do.

Second, the MMA fighters are always there fighting for the little guys, so it portrays these tough MMA guys as being really supportive of the bullied kids.

Third, the bully always talks a big game, and always winds up losing, thus looking like even more of a tool.

Fourth, I find it a fascinating study into the human psyche.  You know how in the days of the Romans there were gladiator fights and duels where they'd pair a human against a bear and stuff like that?  And then how later, punishments were always designed to humiliate people, which was such a big thing because the societal unit was so much stronger when people didn't travel, and you lived your entire life in one town and were known by the town, relied on the town for protection, etc.

From the simplest punishment of putting people into stocks so that their fellow townsmen would see their crime and throw rotten tomatoes at them, to the final act of torture bestowed upon those headed for hangings - to be carried publicly through the streets tied to a cart, in full view of everyone, so that the entire town could beat you, or throw things at you, etc., punishments always had this level of humiliation in their design.  And we look at that now and tend to think how inhumane those kinds of things were, and how we're so advanced now because we do civilized things like private electric chair executions, or whatever they do now.

But when they announce the Bully and he comes into the ring, the crowd goes absolutely nuts.  They boo, and make fists, and scream and yell and go crazy.  They're rabid.  Which makes me think that there's something deeply ingrained in the human psyche that we feel this need to inflict group humiliation on people who have hurt us, or others.  Even though we live very independent lives now, and don't reside in small villages where we depend on each other for our very lives, the idea of being part of a group, and wanting to banish the bad people out of that group, is a basic instinct.

I think I'm going a little deeper into the show than they probably intend for people to go, but it's still fascinating to watch.  Oh, and the Bully usually winds up looking like such a dumbass that he winds up apologizing to the kid he bullied, which is kind of heartwarming.

No comments: