Well it had to happen again, and what could be a more opportune time than these economically crumbling days. Reality TV, after toying with the idea of showing a ‘live death’, courtesy the late Jade Goody in Britain, has moved to the next worst thing — live coverage of people getting sacked. An American programme with the pragmatic title, ‘Somebody’s Gotta Go’ will show a company struggling to stay afloat in these dire times. One supposes that the needy firm not only sacks a salaried employee but also gets remuneration from the TV producers for publicly airing its dirty laundry.
Well, witnessing someone else’s misery is not a new phenomenon. As a spectator sport, the Romans provided gladiatorial bouts while the French Revolution made the guillotine doing its job on a different class of ‘redundants’ prime time viewing. So with the medium of television coming in to help, misery spectacles are old hat.
But what makes watching another person’s real sufferings so entertaining for viewers? To find that someone else’s head is on the block might lull you into believing that your head is safe in these bloody times — while relieving you of the guilt of tactlessly revelling in another’s misery, safely in front of a TV screen. We just hope that at least some in the line of fire will become popular enough — like Maximus in Ridley Scott’s film Gladiator — to start their own reality programme, something along the lines of ‘Unplug that TV show’?