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Why reality TV deserves better than the insulting Reality TV Awards

Why reality TV deserves better than the insulting Reality TV Awards

This is the first essay in a new reality blurred feature: The Confessional.

Jonathan Bennett wrapped the Reality TV Awards last night with a wildly energetic “You’re all fucking ugly on the inside, but you are beautiful on the outside.” Well, I sure felt ugly on the inside by the end of viewing the awards stream online.

An evening to honor the best of what television’s red-haired stepchild has to offer felt like what it was — a show being half-assedly staged in a club with a sprinkling of references to how much booze was being consumed.

I’m really happy for everyone I know who won, and yes, I voted in the open stuff-the-ballot-box, vote-every-day-for-a-stretch process with the limited choices in categories where I had to ask myself questions like “Is Abby Lee Miller really the best villain?” I even encouraged people to vote in posts to Twitter and Facebook linking to the polls.

It’s nice to get some kind of recognition in an industry where, as producer/exec Thom Beers once commented, there are more Emmy categories for hairstyling than for the whole of reality television. The RTVA’s move to honor a “Best Production Company” and “Badass Crew” made me smile, as most crew members and company folk (save for producers) never get a shot at recognition.

The production value and lack of decorum at The Reality TV Awards, though, really reinforces that gross, sour-stomach feeling I can’t shake that we’re all supposed to be less-thans. We don’t have a glamorous night to celebrate ourselves and our work without being overshadowed by our traditionally-scripted-content peers… but we apparently get to have a big, sloppy bar party with sofa seating where we do things like bestow lifetime honors on Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, who took a full minute to take the stage after their names were announced and the host had to leave to go look for them.

Heidi and Spencer Pratt the first to be inducted into a Hall of Fame. As legacies go, I might have gone with Mark Burnett or Andy Cohen or The Osbournes or anyone else, really.

reality television deserves better than this

Sure, I should have stopped watching online the moment the show opened with Bennett (as emcee) paraphrasing RuPaul’s “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” as “If you can’t laugh at yourself, how the hell are you gonna laugh at somebody else?”

I’m sick of laughing at myself. I’m sick of us laughing at each other. I’m sick of us all secretly believing that what we make is often nothing but an empty box made out of shit and the crushed bodies of the fame-starved. Some of what we do is of real quality, and I’d put the best of it up against the best traditionally scripted television.

These awards, as they are, are to my heart an embarrassment and an insult to reality television. We deserve better than a booze-fueled frat party. That, or I need to dial back on my curmudgeon pills.

I hope it made a ton of money and that the modest percentage of profit that was donated to the Wodynski Heart Foundation does some good, but damn. As one reality celeb often chides, “Get it together, boo.”

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