09 Make Your Way Ahead to the Reading Matura
Read the newspaper article, then choose the correct answer (A, B, C or D) for questions 1–6
and put a ⌧ in the correct box.
Reality TV: a dearth of talent and the death of morality
I’ve managed to miss out on reality TV until now. letting a fire go out, for videotaping their clichéd
In spite of all the talk in Britain about nasty Nick thoughts, for flashing their breasts, for lounging
and flighty Mel, and in America about the fat, around, for quarrelling, for being unpopular, and
naked bastard Richard manipulating his way to (this is too interesting to happen often) for kissing!
desert-island victory, I have somehow preserved my Here, in short, are people becoming famous for
purity. I wouldn’t recognise Nick or Mel if I passed doing nothing much at all, but doing it where
them in the street, or Richard if he was standing in everyone can see them.
front of me unclothed. The problem with this kind of engineered realism
Ask me where the Big Brother house is, or how to is that, like all fads, it’s likely to have a short shelf-
reach Temptation Island, and I have no answer. I life, unless it finds ways of renewing itself. The
do remember the American Survivor contestant probability is that our voyeurism will become more
who managed to fry his own hand but that’s demanding. It won’t be enough to watch somebody
because he got onto the main evening news. being catty, or weeping when evicted from the
Otherwise, search me. Who won? Who lost? Who house of hell, or “revealing everything” on subse-
cares? quent talk shows.
The subject of reality TV shows, however, has been What is gradually being reinvented is the gladiato-
impossible to avoid. Their success is the media rial combat. The TV set is the Colosseum and the
story of the (new) century. Success on this scale contestants are both gladiators and lions; their job
insists on being examined, because it tells us things is to eat one another until only one remains alive.
about ourselves; or ought to. But how long, in our jaded culture, before “real”
And what cheap narcissism is here revealed! The lions, actual dangers, are introduced to these vari-
television set, once so idealistically thought of as ous forms of fantasy island, to feed our hunger for
our window on the world, has become a dime-store more action, more pain, more vicarious thrills?
mirror instead. Who needs images of the world’s In the world outside TV, our numbed senses already
rich otherness, when you can watch these half- require increasing doses of titillation. One murder
familiar avatars of yourself – these half-attractive is barely enough; only the mass murderers make the
half-persons – enacting ordinary life under weird front pages. You have to blow up a building full of
conditions? people or machine-gun a whole royal family to get
Who needs talent, when the unashamed self-dis- our attention. Soon, perhaps, you’ll have to kill off
play of the talentless is constantly on offer? a whole species of wildlife or unleash a virus that
“Famous” and “rich” are now the two most impor- wipes out people by the thousand.
tant concepts in western society, and ethical ques- And as in reality, so on “reality TV”. How long
tions are simply obliterated by the potency of their until the first TV death? How long until the sec-
appeal. In order to be famous and rich, it’s OK – it’s ond? By the end of Orwell’s great novel 1984,
actually “good” – to be devious. It’s “good” to be Winston Smith has been brainwashed. “He loved
exhibitionistic. It’s “good” to be bad. And what Big Brother.” As, now, do we. We are the
dulls the moral edge is boredom. It’s impossible to Winstonians now.
maintain a sense of outrage about people being so (Salman Rushdie on the perils of voyeurism in
trivially self-serving for so long. The Guardian, Saturday June 9, 2001)
Oh, the dullness! Here are people becoming
famous for being asleep, for keeping a fire alight, for
132 | Make Your Way Ahead 8
Make Your Way Ahead to the Reading Matura 09
1 What opinion of TV reality shows does the author express in the first paragraph?
A He only takes an interest when they make news.
B He can’t understand why they are so popular.
C He has absolutely no interest in watching them at all.
D He finds them interesting from an academic point of view.
2 Why does he believe reality TV shows are worth studying?
A Because everyone is talking about them.
B Because their popularity offers insight into the human race.
C Because they are the future of TV.
D Because they are everywhere.
3 Why is the author so worried about fame?
A Because fame has become devalued.
B Because fame has become over-important in modern society.
C Because our fascination with fame has distorted our moral values.
D Because famous people are too concerned with showing off their money.
4 Which of the following activities does the author not refer to in his list of typical reality
A preparing meals.
B arguing with other contestants.
C taking clothes off.
D talking to the camera.
5 What is the danger for TV reality shows?
A People will get bored of them unless they find more exciting formats.
B Governments are under pressure to ban them from our screens.
C They could lead to murder.
D They are becoming very expensive.
6 What point does the author make about modern life in the real world in the penultimate
A We have become obsessed by violence.
B Many people live in fear of a chemical attack.
C We have become insensitive to violence.
D People are becoming more and more violent.
Make Your Way Ahead 8 | 133