I took this picture on my walk to work one rainy day because I found the combination of reality and reflection fascinating.
What is real?
Today, I think that picture represents the murky world of entertainment, where reality television is produced, its characters cast and its plotlines crafted in advance and, conversely, where documentaries can turn ordinary humans into movie characters and seemingly fair game for water cooler dissection.
What is real?
The answer requires an exponentially increasing level of sophistication, but our empathy and compassion, two very critical components of our own humanity, depend on our efforts to find it.
Back in the early days of television the difference between reality and entertainment was much more clear.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
It would be nice if today’s television shows, movies and documentaries featured caveats like these famous lines from the 1967 show Dragnet. In the crowded world of modern entertainment programming, however, the focus necessarily keys heavily on protecting the ratings, not the innocent.
We end up with housewives who aren’t real, sensationalized citizens who are, and social media sites that encourage instantaneous (and therefore superficial) analysis of both.
We have greater access to entertainment than ever before. We also have access to genuine information.
All I’m saying is let’s use the latter to understand the former. Let’s enjoy our entertainment with a savvy eye and be judicious in our analysis.
Let’s work hard to understand what’s real.