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Reality TV ó exploitation or fun
Reality television seems to be the latest trend in programming. But in fact, showing people being themselves has been around on television since the early days of the media when shows like Candid Camera were popular.
Now, however, the trend has expanded to all networks and a variety of scenarios (outlines of events). Some shows, like Survivor, offer huge prizes, others have no financial reward for winners. Some people seem to simply want to live their lives with the world watching. Even for shows like that, there are thousands more people applying than there are spaces on the show.
The show for you to read about today, Amazing Race 3, does offer a prize and is coming to Thai TV. Find out some of the facts before you read by scanning for answers to the following questions:
What does it take?
Create the profile of a winning team.
In the story youíll find this statement about what it takes to win: "The teams were forced to rely on their wits and ingenuity to complete the tasks and arrive at the next destination." Your wits means your ability to think quickly and clearly and to make good decisions. Ingenuity is the ability to invent things or solve problems in clever new ways. Those are just two of the characteristics of a successful participant in this game.
As you read the story, notice what other characteristics are mentioned about the successful individuals and teams. Beginning with quick-witted and ingeniouIs (the adjective forms) make a list of characteristics. Donít rely only on the story. What characteristics can you add from your own knowledge?
Television is always a topic of conversation when people get together. Here are some suggestions of things to think and talk about after you have read todayís story.
In the final paragraph of the story, Phil Keoghan, host of Amazing Race 3, comments that some reality shows "play with peopleís state of mind". That can be very harmful and at least one network has taken action to prevent problems like the break up of a family. They sent a couple home when they discovered they had a young child.
Keoghan goes on to explain that this show is not exploitive. Exploitive means to put people in situations which are dangerous to their physical or emotional well being, especially for the sake of making money.
What do you think? Does Amazing Race 3 sound to you like it is exploitive or not? Explain why you think so.
This article has been published before the show airs here in Thailand. Surprisingly, the writer has told us who the winners are, who came second and third. So you donít have to watch, do you? But will you? Why or why not? Explain your answer and your reasons to a friend or classmate and find out what he or she thinks too.
OUR STORY FROM THE BANGKOK POST
Itís not always joyful when you have to travel to unfamiliar places with someone you love, especially when you donít know what is waiting for you ahead. There are many things that can disturb your peace of mind ó time constraints, the budget, the directions and the security. All can put strains on the relationship and drive you apart.
Now imagine a television show that puts real people under these circumstances with the stress revved up a thousand times ó and with a million dollar prize at stake. What else could be more fascinating than watching these people going through all the frustrations in an around-the-world-journey while trying to get on with the race and emerge as the winner?
Created by top Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer ó the man behind blockbusters such as Top Gun, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor ó The Amazing Race is a reality game show which focuses on couples taking part in an adventurous trip from one country to another. As part of the race, the duo teams never know where they are going next, or what they have to do at each destination: all clues are only revealed when they get there.
"I think whatís so wonderful about a reality show is the unpredictable elements that you have," says Phil Keoghan, the programmeís host. Keoghan says that it was interesting to see these people completely thrown off-guard and not know how to deal with going to foreign countries and facing rich diversity and culture shock.
However, the show is not about who has the most physical endurance or who has the most bodily prowess; itís ultimately about how well they work together on the solid foundation of their relationship.
Twelve interesting couples, each with pre-existing relationship such as life-long friends, identical twins, married couple, gay partners or even grandmother and granddaughther, were selected from thousands of applications to compete in a series of mental and physical tasks around the globe with cameras following them everywhere.
The teams were forced to rely on their wits and ingenuity to complete the tasks and arrive at the next destination. They had to go to exotic places like rural Thailand, Vietnam and India, as well as big cities like London and Seattle. Restricted plane travel and a strict budget added to the difficulty level of the game. Teams farthest behind were eliminated as the race progressed. And the first team to arrive at the final destination would win the grand prize of $1 milllion.
Following the success of the first two seasons, the Amazing Race 3 follows 12 couples over 41 days as they traverse Mexico, Scotland, Portugal, Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Vietnam and the US.
"I have to say it was a balance of mental, physical and luck," said Zach, a 23 year-old production assistant from New York, who was referred to admiringly by other competitors as a human machine, a good racer and uncrackable man. Zach along with his college friend Flo are the winner couple of the Amazing Race 3.
Surprisingly, prior to the race Zach and Flo had only shared one 24-hour trip together in their five-year friendship. But they were convinced that they have what it takes. During the race, Flo showed her fragile state of mind and was portrayed as the freaked-out half of the team while Zach seemed to be the one who kept calm and was in charge of the team. However, he said, "Flo contributed a lot to this winning. She is good at searching for information, making friends and networking, which Iím not so good at, throughout the race. But at the same time she had tough time dealing with stress. So I had to stay cool when she was about to blow up." Though Zach said that their friendship is tighter than before but it would be rather impossible that they would travel with each other again.
In second place were Ken and Gerard, the self-labelled "odd couple" brothers who are as different in almost every aspect of their lives ó married vs. single, conservative vs. liberal, straight vs. gay ó except for their love of laughter. "What Iíve learned from the game is that no matter how ugly things turn, we should look at it in a positive way with great sense of humour," said Gerard, who along with his brother, encountered flat tires twice during the race.
Surprisingly, arriving third at the finishing line were Ian and Teri, a couple in their 50s, whom other teams saw as a chopped-liver. Married for 21 years, Ian and Teri thought they beat other contestants with their patience and tolerance. "We felt like those other guys were super-heroes. But our strategy was to build alliances with other teams and to be patient," says Ian, a former private investigator from Florida.
Lately, reality television shows such as Temptation Island, Fear Factor and Survivor have been getting more popular. Most of them play with peopleís state of mind and put their relationship and emotions to extreme tests. However, according to the show host Keoghan, The Amazing Race is not an exploitation show but aims to show how well people work together and whether they can make the right decisions to keep going in the race. He also pointed out that it intends to "celebrate the difference in life instead of criticising it, because [when traveling to foreign countries] some of the teams couldnít understand how come things were like that. Itís good for them to understand that itís because the world doesnít work one way"