Coming Soon: Reality TV Magazine
The New York Times has reported that American Media Inc., which publishes such formidable journalistic bastions as the National Enquirer and Star, is adding to its stable a new weekly magazine: Reality Weekly. Sounds weighty, doesn’t it? I can picture it now: analysis of Plato’s allegory of the cave, debates on the philosophy of Hegel vs. Kant, long discourses examining whether those scientists really did disprove Einstein’s theory of relativity …
Uh, no. That’s reality as in reality TV.
That’s right. Starting in January, you’ll be able to follow the exploits of the Kardashians, Snooki, basketball players’ spouses, and housewives from every major metropolis even more closely than you already do.
I really don’t get reality TV. I suspect the fault line is generational. My daughter adores all these shows that chronicle the fatuous lives of people who aren’t really anybody. Her idea of a perfect day is a Real Housewives marathon; she’ll go from show to show to show in a mind-numbing procession of catty chat sessions and banshee screaming fits and abhorrent parenting, curled up on the sofa in a haze of happiness.
“What is it about them?” I ask. She shakes her head; she can’t explain the appeal, or if she can, is ashamed of what it says about her. I hope the desperate drama of their over-hyped lives makes the relative pacifism of hers appealing. I pray she isn’t being indoctrinated by the subtexts of, say, Millionaire Matchmaker, in which Patti Stanger once said, “It is so important for women to be women and men to be men, and to keep those roles intact. It’s worked for millions of years.” (Worked for whom?)
Luckily for the new magazine, reality shows provide “an embarrassment of riches,” according to its new editor, Richard Spencer. “Embarrassment” is the operative word. The one thing reality TV stars all have in common is a nigh-pathological need for attention, so why not a magazine that will serve for further self-promotion? The Times says that producer Simon Cowell, when approached by American Media about the magazine, marveled, “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?”
Spencer takes on the editing of Reality Weekly while continuing to edit OK, which indicates just how tough he figures the task will be. Cheap (at $1.79 per issue) and easy—how about that? The new mag is just like the women on reality TV.