Sunday, June 23, 2024
8.4 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

We can do better than f*** boys, NZ

I feel dirty, Wairarapa. Last weekend, I watched FBoy Island NZ.

The adverts looked intriguing, some of the lads were cute, and I needed a distraction from the US Midterms. Mea culpa.

For the morbidly curious: 10 “Nice Guys” and 10 “F*** Boys” [men with dubious dating habits] compete for the hearts of three conventionally attractive women. If each of the women pairs off with a Nice Guy, they share a cash prize. If they are charmed into choosing an undercover FBoy, he gets the dough to himself.

The shows has … some amusing moments. I have questions, however. Why we are perpetuating the notion that women can’t be trusted to make solid choices in relationships? Is it really a good idea to centre a show around romance by way of manipulation?

In the 21st century, has this model of entertainment – exploiting real-life heartbreak for clicks – worn out its welcome?

Reality TV is an interesting beast. Since Big Brother beamed into lounge rooms in the 90s, the “unscripted” television industry has exploded, and audiences keep coming back for more. Tuneless Idol auditionees, outlandish Shark Tank pitches, the Jersey Shore cast’s booze-fuelled theatrics – we can’t get enough of our fellow humans’ exhibitionist tendencies unfolding on screen.

The reatlity TV boom has its positives. Competitive shows have introduced some phenomenal talents, self-improvement programmes have helped people make genuine changes, and others have provided platforms for marginalised communities.

Critics argue the format reflects “reality” in misleading and fraudulent ways, sets vulnerable people up for humiliation, and capitalises on the worst of human nature.

Such practices have generated plenty of scandal. Producers for The Bachelor, for example, admitted they were offered bonuses for instigating drama amongst the cast. Contestants from America’s Next Top Model accused production of creating unsafe environments – creating conflict by forcing models to film on little sleep and no food. Participants on The Biggest Loser reported being made to exercise until they vomited, solely to create “good TV”.

Unsafe practices have continued off-camera. Reality stars [including from my beloved Drag Race] who have fallen victim to the infamous “villain edit” – which positions someone as the antagonist through manipulative editing – have been harangued and bullied by angry fans, culminating in death threats.

And now, Aotearoa has its own reality TV scandal: FBoy Island’s casting of Wayde Moore, despite him appearing in court on suffocation charges. TVNZ really needs to work on its hiring practices.

Despite the pushback, reality TV shows continue to proliferate. Largely because they’re cheap: Production costs are low, studios don’t need to bankroll a writers’ room, and cast members are not paid union-approved rates.

It’s no secret our public broadcasters have been successively underfunded. So, its unsurprising to see New Zealand television copying and pasting a format guaranteed to profit – unfortunately, often at the expense of participants’ mental and physical health.

Look, I’d be a hypocrite to judge anyone for enjoying the odd reality show. But, fun though it is to hate-watch The Real Housewives of Auckland, I think we can do better.

Aotearoa is home to so much talent, creativity and originality – which deserves to be showcased on screen. We know what Kiwis are capable of as artists. So, let’s front up with the money and start telling our own stories.

If you’re chilling out in front of some trashy TV this weekend, I hope you have a blast. Just remember, Wairarapa: A larger person passing out on a treadmill isn’t funny, men are more complex than “nice guys” and “FBoys”, and reality stars have feelings, too.

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
broken clouds
8.4 ° C
8.8 °
8.4 °
97 %
82 %
8 °
13 °
12 °
11 °
11 °