29 June 2007

The Sanjaya Effect

I'm sure you've heard of Sanjaya. If you haven't, then you, my friend, need to start watching crap TV. :D

Well, what we have now on local TV is known as the Sanjaya effect. And this is not a story about the weather. What I'm talking about is the latest controversy surrounding Pinoy Big Brother in that --- Wendy gets to stay. She gets a 4 in 1 shot at the grand prize. I hear lots of people cursing. But can't say I'm surprised by the result. Won't even be surprised if Wendy wins it this Saturday.

Why did Wendy stay?
  • Because she has loyal followers. Unfortunately. While they don't necessarily seem to be a big group...what they lack in numbers, they made it up for passion and devotion. Maybe they are stupid but you can’t fault them for their loyalty. Oh, yes they come to the Eviction Hall in full force. Booing at those who boo Wendy back. Shouting for Wendy if and when her face is flashed on TV. For someone like Wendy, who in a matter of one month, managed to become the most hated person on television, those are the kind of followers you need.
  • Because the rest of us who are vocal about hating Wendy, are only just that --- vocal. We say we are appalled by her behavior. We hear many others agreeing with us. And they are plenty. But what we say does not actually convert to votes for those who are still inside the house, does it? While we remain disgusted with seeing her on TV and we tell people about it, Wendy's followers in the meantime are busy texting points for Wendy. Sly diba? Matinik. Wais. Admit it, did you honestly pick up your cellphones and texted BB Mickey, Bea, Gee-Ann or Bodie? I didn't.

Did she even deserve it?

Her spot at the Big 4? Yes, she did. People voted for her, didn't they? She may even deserve the grand prize. Everybody deserves the grand prize...because it's a contest. And she, per se, didn't cheat to earn the votes. She just showed her true colors. But by doing that, she did not deserve to earn the respect of many people, perhaps millions of people. Which one should matter, really? When all of these is over? In the history of RealityTV, not ALL who won, DESERVED to win. We are just learning that now with Season 2.

Why did I not vote?

Because I'm not stupid to buy into this gimmick. It is that simple. It's the honest truth. The total amount I have spent for any reality TV show comes to less than P200.00 I suppose. And I still feel I've wasted my money. I. Still. Wasted. Money. And perhaps, ever since Big Brother thought it was good to bring back evicted housemates into the house, the rest of you stopped caring to vote as well, no? Can't blame you. At least you've wisen up and realized it isn't worth buying into this gimmick.

You do realize now it’s all a gimmick, no?

Where’s the credibility?

Boys and girls, credibility is for the news department. It’s not something you find in a RealityTV show.

On Big Brother, you look for entertainment, not credibility. You watch this show because it feeds your inner chismoso, admit it. And because you like to peek into the life of another person and find pleasure in discovering that he or she is just pathetic as you are. That doesn’t sound like a credible activity, does it?

The producers, on the other hand, do not aim for credibility in a RealityTV show. If they did, they ought to be fired right away because a moralist and a do-gooder have no place in RealityTV programming. In fact, I think some amount of crafty-ness or deviousness should flow into the veins of a RealityTV producer to survive it. Hence, I am *this close [ ] * to bowing to PBB director, Dyogi.

RealityTV programming aims for what sells…even if that means bringing back ex-housemates into the house. That isn’t illegal. That’s producing a TV "spectacle". Note that I did not just say TV show. I said "spectacle", which sounds grander than a TV "show".

There are three formulas to a successful RealityTV, none of it involves credibility:
  • Shock factor. Sex cannot happen on Philippine TV, so we leave that out. Where do we tap for the shock factor? On controversy. On all that drama for your mama. On the fact that people cannot stop talking about it.
  • Surrealism factor. Or the fact that something unreal is happening to someone you watch on TV. And if it’s bad you say to yourself --- "Thank god it’s not happening to me!" And if it’s good you say to yourself --- "I wish that can happen to me". You wonder why so many are suckered into auditioning for Big Brother even at all costs?
  • Show Me The Money factor. Ahhh, the biggest mitigating factor --- the what-happens-after-the-show-is-over. In most cases, RealityTV contestants end up having a career change, did you notice? Busboys become media personalities. Boring office staffers become media personalities. They make movies, TV shows, albums, endorsements. 15 minutes of fame well spent.

RealityTV is born from game shows. But these days nobody is contented with a game show that’s purely question and answer or something patterned after Kwarta o Kahon. And even if was patterned after Kwarta o Kahon, look at the amount of production they have to do to make you sit up and take notice: they have sexy dancers or family members in the background having a nervous breakdown just because you didn’t choose kwarta or kahon…those kinds of things.

These days, shows have to have spice, character and drama. And sometimes to do all that, people behind the show have to do a little tweaking in the production. I’m not saying things are scripted or manipulated because I have no way of knowing that myself.

I’m just saying that for the sake of entertainment --- this is what you get.

If you are smart enough to see through the cracks, then you will just sit back and watch, without buying into the gimmick.

But if you are smarter and you realize you are not liking it anymore? Hell, don’t go complaining…it’s not worth the wrinkles. It's not worth your time. Just change the damn channel.

Additional read, if you are interested: The Dangers of RealityTV: Ideology, Capitalism, Competition, Style and Education

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