reality and getting real

it seems like almost every reality show these days falls into one of three categories: competition (like ‘top chef’), makeover (like ‘property brothers’ or ‘say yes to the dress’), or unnecessary exaggeration of everyday drama (like every ‘real housewives’ series). granted, there are a few that have some kind of concrete message, like the hope- and triumph-filled ‘my 600-lb life,’ the true dedication of athletes shown in ‘total divas’ (most of the time), or the story of hard work and old-fashioned values in ’19 kids and counting’ (UPDATE: this show was cancelled due to untrue accusations of sexual abuse) and ‘alaskan bush people.’ but even those tend to fall into still another category that belittles tv: let’s make fun of these freaks under the pretense of ‘tolerance for all ways of life.’

there are so many things that could be put on tv that have a worthwhile message – and little to no potential for corruption. take, for instance, the story of james robertson and evan leedy. known as the ‘walking man,’ 56-year-old robertson walked over ten miles to work and back in detroit for ten years because he couldn’t make enough money to feed himself, keep a home, and get a car. instead of asking for government aid or trying to get a higher-paying job, he found a way to continue doing what he loved, and was content with little, as st. paul calls us to be in philippians. 19-year-old leedy, a student at wayne state university, started a go-me fund to buy robertson a new car. it seems his years of hard work paid off, even without him asking for help.

at fifty-six, james robertson traverses ten miles to work through detroit snows.
at fifty-six, james robertson traverses ten miles to work through detroit snows.

isn’t that the kind of america we want to watch on tv? the america we started with, where hard work is more valued than income, and social status is determined by morals, not company. an america without glorifying drunk twenty-somethings who should have been fired a long time ago, without holding up as role models women in their fifties who act like seventh graders. the america we need, both in the media and in our homes, is an america where hard workers like james robertson are considered top-of-the-line individuals.

– lexxie rae xx


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