2012 December 16 Sunday
The Net Effects Of Reality TV Shows?

The Learning Channel has a new reality TV show about a funeral home that turns death into a celebration.

TLC, which brought the world "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and "Sister Wives," has hit new depths: The new one-hour special "Best Funeral Ever" will follow dead people's journey to the grave.

New depths? This seems in the cultural vein of Irish wakes or New Orleans celebrations of the death of a person. The use of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" for comparison merits examination. America's demographic changes are producing new depths that are out of sight of our cognitive elites. The Learning Channel is just educating people about the lower classes.

Do we need trashy reality TV shows of promiscuous people (Honey's mom has kids by a few different guys to tell us how badly America's lower classes are performing? I think so. Most intelligent people aren't going to read Charles Murray's Coming Apart to find out how things are going wit the lower classes. On the other hand, most people above 120 IQ probably aren't going to watch reality TV shows either.

The Learning Channel is similarly doing a reality show on drunken drivers called D.U.I. I happen to think watching these sorts of shows is a waste of my time because I do not romanticize the masses or human nature and have spent a lot of time ridding myself of delusions. But quite a few people need to have their delusions challenged.

My problem with Honey Boo Boo and Jersey Shore is that they do not show the demographic extent of the kinds of people they present. They aren't demographically representative either. For example, anyone come across a Hispanic gang banger reality TV show? Or how about a reality TV show based around the lives of kids who attend a ghetto high school?

What I wonder: Do reality TV shows validate and promote the lifestyles they capture? Or do they show people what not to do with one's life?

We have lots of interesting subcultures waiting for video capture. Discovery is also competing in the trashy reality TV sphere: Amish Mafia. How cool is that?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 December 16 12:33 PM 

Paleo Retiree said at December 18, 2012 10:50 AM:

The Wife and I have watched a lot of hoarding shows recently, both of the hoarding-things and hoarding-animals variety. Many of them are real glimpses into lower-rung America. They've left us with the feeling that middle-class-and-up-America and working-class-and-lower-America have gone totally separate ways. Many of the people in them seem sweet, or bright, or big-hearted, but they inhabit a totally different universe than the ones we know.

"Idiocracy" -- most prescient movie of our age?

Randall Parker said at December 20, 2012 10:28 PM:


Yes, the gap is widening. Charles Murray explains some of this in Coming Apart. We need a more realistic view of our lower classes.

JayMan said at December 25, 2012 6:21 PM:

Am I the only person who thinks that the best way to deal with the problems of lower class people is not some futile quest to get them to behave the way they putatively did in the pre-sexual revolution world but to breed them out, or least, the most truly hopeless ones?

Mthson said at December 26, 2012 7:09 PM:


That's an interesting chart in your post:

IQ has a negative impact on fertility for liberals and has a positive impact on fertility for conservatives... Not only will conservatives come to numerically dominate liberals in the future, conservatives will soon intellectually dominate liberals as well.

The chart is only for White Americans. If it included all ethnicities, that trend toward conservative babies getting slightly smarter with each generation, and liberal babies getting much less smart with each generation would be even stronger.

Thanks for the post.

Randall Parker said at December 28, 2012 6:56 PM:


What I'd like to do: Offer lower class girls money to use very high quality sperm donors. Or get them hooked up temporarily to higher class men to knock up. Also, eventually bribe them to use embryo selection once pre-implantation genetic testing can help select smarter embryos.

In a nutshell: It is sufficient to prevent the reproduction of lower class men. Lower class women can be allowed to fulfill their instinctive desires in supervised ways and this would cause far less political opposition.

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