What happens when you cross “Fear Factor” and American politics? You get the new reality TV show “Red/Blue.” Are you ready? I really wonder what you think about this one. Some political consultants, supported by the TV production firm whose parent company has brought us “Fear Factor” and “Big Brother,” hope to put a dozen or so budding political consultants in a Georgetown townhouse. Much like MTV’s “Real World,” the place will be wired with cameras to catch the contestants’ every move.
And I’m sure there will be lots of “moves,” with the various consultants each trying to out maneuver the others; each one attempting to demonstrate their skills; each one seeking to out muscle the other. What they’ll do is to emulate the real thing – that is, the real world of political consultants.
Will “Red/Blue” offer us any hope? Will it generate any sense of possibility?
No, it is likely to make a mockery of people’s deep concerns about politics and public life today. People tell me that their reality is not reflected, and sometimes it is even distorted. Well, here’s another chance for that to occur. Why should this program be any different from Fear Factor, where people routinely eat bugs, let snakes swarm all over them, and go underwater for what seems like eternity. Sound like anyone’s reality you know?
“Red/Blue” will only deepen the ingrained narrative in our society that Republicans and Democrats must always be split; that they must engage in a kind of endless “Animal House” food fight; and that each of us is merely a caricature of ourselves.
Is this what we want?
Here’s what I want. I want us to think about being engaged in politics and public life as a noble endeavor. Sure, there are compromises that must be made, tough decisions to undertake, and not everyone will like each other. So what? But the junk they’re sure to include in this show only further debases what is an already sorry state of affairs. It is a cheap shot by a handful of folks out to make a quick buck.
If they want to create a new show about political consultants, let them make one where the contestants have to find ways to constructively, and imaginatively, re-engage people in politics and public life. That would be a worthwhile.