I would like to say that Reality TV has come a long way since my first experience with it in my tiny dorm room in Japan oh so many years ago… But I suppose it would be more accurate to say that it has become so perfected and so diversified over all the years without much basic change. The basic formula: get people together, provide a theme, and then do everything you can to make the human interest and drama angle explode. Reality TV has been the subject of numerous articles disappointed in mankind. Is anything sacred, we wonder? Will people really do anything, suffer any humiliation, just to be on TV? Do producers and TV networks have any shame?
Let me introduce the comic book series, 7 Days to Fame written by Buddy Scalera, art by Nick Diaz, Dennis Budd, John Statema, and Joe Caramagna, colors by Wilson Ramos, and letting by Chris Eliopoulos (comic are lengthy to attribute properly!). To summarize briefly, the story is about people who are so desperate that they agree to star in a reality show which leads up to their suicide in seven days and the creators who stumble on the idea. The show is a hit, despite the expected protests.
It is a good solid story, does not fall victim (as many comics do) to dithering on too long or being too brief and has some strong imagery.
(Picture taken by Buddy Scalera at NYCC2013. Art by Dennis Budd.)
Try as I might, I could not quite capture the emotion of the image of the desperate woman surrounded by a television production at the climax of her appearance on the reality show. I suppose I will have to shelve acting as a possible future career.
The artwork in the image above I obtained at Buddy Scalera’s booth in Artist Alley at NYCC2013. I do have to say that it is powerful imagery, and the best part is carrying it around while shopping at other booths. For inevitably, people will ask to see what you have concealed under your arms or against your chest.
And rotating that particular piece of artwork turned many grins into… well, whatever it is you call it when someone’s grin becomes frozen in awkwardness and confusion. They do not know what to say, what to think. Are they supposed to say it is awesome or cool, what I have? Or is that wrong? They know not.
One woman was completely enthused and intrigued by the story and was unafraid to say it. She all but forced me to direct her to Buddy’s booth.
However, the best part, the true madness and point of this story is what happens later. What happens when I leave the context of the comic book convention. When I travel far and away by train…
I’m walking in the suburbs to where I am staying for the week. It is night time, and I am exhausted from a long day’s conventioning. I pass by a parking garage which is currently inhabited by many young college students who are just killing time on the weekend. As I pass, one of the students notices what I’m carrying and asks me about it. I soon have a small audience of young men and women asking about the shocking illustration.
I do my best to explain the plot, but I am tired and I miss a vital part of my explanation. Two of the young women gasp, one covers her mouth. The other eagerly asks me when the “show” is airing on TV.
They thought it was part of merchandising for a real reality show.
And even the girl who gasped was somewhat disappointed when I explained it was fictional show in a comic book, not a real show.
…but one wonders. If society was just slightly different… in some alternate reality where life and death are just a smidge less sacred… is such a show playing right now?