If you don’t care that Reality TV has become Savage TV, then by all means show up for the CBS series Big Brother 8’s open casting call on Saturday at CBS Radford in Studio City from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. More are scheduled for Michigan, New York, Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, North Carolina, Utah, and Nebraska. This is an especially repulsive show, so much so that last summer’s episodes prompted me to write that Reality TV had gone wild because of its freak shows, freak accidents and freakin’ mayhem. The genre had marked a repugnant milestone when one of the Season 7 “All-Stars” contestants threatened violence against one of the female houseguests — and the show’s producers did nothing obvious to stop it. It was a dramatic change from five years ago when houseguest Nicole Schaffrich pledged to “kick ass,” “slit wrists, horizontally, not vertically” and “cut heads off,” leading the show’s producers to warn her about her behavior. Back then, the contestants who used threats or intimidation toward other houseguests faced expulsion from the game (as happened with contestant Justin Sebik who, as part of what he called a joke, held a knife to a fellow contestant’s throat and asked her if she would get mad if he killed her. After she laughed, he put down the weapon and kissed her). But for Season 7, CBS obviously felt that having a wild animal in the house spelled wild ratings. So the question begs asking: Are the contestants turned into psychos, or are they psychos waiting to happen? Until recently, the worst accusation against Reality TV, besides its obnoxious product placement and general dumb-assedness, was its obvious dishonesty. Like all things Hollywood, what’s at stake is money, and gobs of it. Tame the Reality TV beast.
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