Let's take back the airwaves in 2012

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By Lisa Tolliver


Today is the start of a new year and many of us will be making New Year's resolutions.

Almost as quick as they're made, many of those promising resolutions will be broken. But I say enough of promises to lose weight, volunteer more, clean your house, eat better, quit smoking or just become a better person. I say we, as a society, take a stand together - one that will make a difference for all and make the world a better place in the end.

Let's take back our airwaves and use 2012 to get rid of reality television. It's had its shining moment in the sun and more than its 15 minutes of fame. Let's say goodbye to reality television "stars" like the Kardashians and those irritating housewives. Let's give a big sign-off salute to screaming teen moms and those bachelors and bachelorettes looking for love in front of a camera. Let's tell those "Dance Moms" and mothers of "Toddlers and Tiaras" they will have to find another way to exploit their children because we are tired of seeing it. Let's let the television networks know we're tired of seeing wives being swapped and bratty children being disciplined by a super-strict nanny.

If we really sat down and thought about the type of programs on our airwaves, it's kind of embarrassing. This is what we've allowed to happen as a society. We know that when television programs aren't watched they get cancelled. We've seen it happen to some of the best new shows around. But reality television has a lower break-even number because the cost of producing them is less expensive than prime time dramas or comedies. Therefore, they stay on, gain more of an audience with each show and then the "stars" of the shows become celebrities of sorts, and we've allowed it to happen. We should be ashamed that we've let reality television go so far. "Ashamed" might be a harsh word but it's the reality of it. We've become so used to "reality" television that we don't even notice when it's not "real" anymore. Some events in these programs are obviously staged but we don't care, we go right on watching it. If we're OK with staged reality television then maybe we're saying we want to get back to what television used to be like. Maybe we are saying to those networks that it's OK if they put a television program on that is made-up but this time we want real "stars."

Let's start demanding real actors and a higher quality of television for our viewing pleasure. If we stand together we can make it happen. We can get rid of repo men who are bullies with an attitude. We can say goodbye to pawn store owners who want nothing more than to argue with each other in front of the camera. If we are looking for family drama, most of us can find that in our own houses without the commercial breaks.

I'm guilty, like most of us, of watching some of these shows. But at the end, I didn't feel I had gained anything from the experience. In fact, sometimes I felt a little dumber, a little less intelligent. But like a bad habit, I confess I watched the same shows again. But not anymore, this year I'm saying goodbye to these shows and demand more of myself.

My rant isn't necessarily directed toward programs I would compare more to game shows. Shows like "The Biggest Loser," "Survivor," "The Amazing Race" or "American Idol" have a prize at the end and can be fun to watch as you root for your favorite team. I guess some would say "The Bachelor" and its spin-off "The Bachelorette" could also be considered a game but when the prize at the end is a human, then maybe we should rethink our viewing habits. Although I enjoy some of the other "game show" types of reality programs (that don't involve the winning of a person at the end) I would be willing to sacrifice those to get all the other reality television shows off the air.

So let's make 2012 the year we say goodbye to reality shows and the fake "celebrities" they create. Let's get back to quality programs on television and demand networks to take notice and make a change. If we don't watch, they won't air them.

Editor's note: Lisa Tolliver is the editor of The Kentucky Standard in Bardstown.