[FOUNTAIN]The value of privacy and reality shows

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[FOUNTAIN]The value of privacy and reality shows

San Pedro Island, part of Belize, a small Central American nation, is considered one of the best vacation destinations because of its virgin forests and beautiful coral reefs. Four couples are invited to the island, where a test measuring how much they love each other awaits them.
The couples are separated, and each person must endure the temptation of the opposite sex. Each person has the opportunity to date three people from among a specially selected group of handsome men and beautiful women. Their dates are recorded by a television camera.
As time goes on, some people give in to temptation. The host of the TV show slips the news to the person’s partner, and the angry lover often retaliates by cheating on the partner. Some couples curse and use violence on each other; some break up.
This is part of a show called “Temptation Island,” which was produced by Fox Broadcasting Co. and aired in scores of countries, including the United States and South Korea.
The participants on the show are not actors, but ordinary people, and their word and actions are not guided by the director, although there is the chance that people might “put on a show,” knowing that they are being filmed.
We call these programs “reality” shows, a genre that has been gaining popularity since the late 1990s, since they seem to frankly depict people’s private lives. The more a program stimulates the “Peeping Tom” impulse in viewers, the more successful it is. For this reason, clever ideas for reality shows have come up.
“The Family” on ABC is about a family whose members fight each other to win $1 million. “Joe Millionaire” on Fox TV shows women fighting over a man who has been introduced as a millionaire. “The Jerry Springer Show,” which is full of foul language, was aired in Korea. There were even rumors that a broadcasting company in the Netherlands approved a show depicting childbirth.
Things have gone too far. Even so, there isn’t much we can do to stop these grotesque developments. There are people who are willing to reveal their private lives to earn money.
“These days, normal people don’t want privacy. When they are cheated by their lovers, they run to a broadcasting station.” This is what philosopher Umberto Eco sees as people’s psychology these days.
He said, “What governments should do before protecting individuals’ privacy is to teach the value of privacy to those who are willing to give up their privacy.”
If such a government appears in the future, it might cause a crisis for the reality shows.

by Lee Sang-il

The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
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