Wednesday, January 02, 2013

More unreal reality

The December 11, 2011 Los Angeles Times reported that Dave Hester, one of the cast of A and E’s Storage Wars has been fired. He is suing the producers, alleging the show is faked. He claims items are salted in storage units which have been supposedly unopened until they are bid on and won. The show's producers deny his accusation.

I’ve written of this before, that “reality” shows are just not reality, but are mostly real-life people (not actors*) followed by camera crews, put into situations that are simulacra of ordinary lives or occupations. Of the few shows I watch regularly, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and Storage Wars, all of them are mostly entertainment. And why spoil what is entertaining with dull reality?

Dave Hester is the obnoxious bad guy in Storage Wars, the guy we’re supposed to boo when he shows up and calls out with his braying “Yuuup!” Now that he’s off the show they will need another bad guy, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see someone else set up to take Hester’s place.

I also believe the producers of
Storage Wars will settle with Hester for an undisclosed amount of money, and they will not admit to any wrongdoing. Hester will sign off on the agreement by saying he won’t reveal what he was paid.

I’ve noticed that when Mike and Frank of American Pickers roll up on a site to pick, they ring the doorbell and the person comes to the door to greet them but doesn’t look at the camera. Can you imagine opening the door to find Mike and Frank on your doorstep with an entire camera crew behind them, and you don’t ask what is going on? No one in this show does. I suppose the locations and people are scouted before the show is filmed, and there are rules those people agree to follow, such as not to react to the cameras. There was an episode where the pickers went to a house where a man told them he wasn’t interested and slammed the door in their faces. I’m not 100% sure that was staged, but if the man didn’t want anything to do with being picked, he still signed a waiver agreeing to have his face used.

My contention is the use of the term “reality” is a misnomer, because even if the shows were not juiced up or manipulated for added entertainment value the presence of the camera changes reality. Maybe they should call them assisted-reality shows.

There are so many of them…I’ve watched programs like Dog the Bounty Hunter, Property Brothers, American Restoration, The Little Couple, Cajun Justice (cancelled after one season), What Not to Wear (my wife’s favorite) and individual episodes of several others, and never come away with a feeling that I have just watched something altogether real.

* I refuse to call the Kardashians or stars of shows like theirs real-life, thinking of them instead as entities created by television, and who live in an alternate, digital universe.


DEMiller said...

These shows are obviously staged, but how much is hard to know. Still, very entertaining. Just take it all with a grain of salt.

Postino said...

I agree with you in the "take it all with a grain of salt," but I think a lot of people believe these shows are true, and in that way they are being lied to. Maybe it's harmless, and maybe it's just me, but I think there should be a disclaimer like, "Some of the situations in this program are dramatized" to let everyone know that reality is being manipulated.