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This would be the greatest reality TV show of all time

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Preface: Since their invention, popularization, and herpes-like spread across the landscape of television, I have maintained an unwavering attitude of blind, unadulterated hatred toward reality TV shows and the viewers who allow their existence to continue. I actually pass rash judgement on the overall character of people who watch things like Jersey Shore. It’s profoundly ironic based on what follows in this piece, but it’s nothing short of absolute bigotry and I don’t care. I would rather spend all the years of my existence trying to take my own life via repeated blows to the head with a plastic spoon than become someone who spends his time staring at a television to watch other people spend their time and possibly also stare at a television. So when I suggest that something would make for a great reality show, I say that purely in a fictional sense. Should a program like this ever be televised, I would feel at least partially responsible and, as punishment, would reach for the nearest Dixie utensil. You may now proceed.

Background Setup: I like video games — always have — but our house didn’t have any gaming systems when I was a kid. Well, once we did. Then I got a B in school and my parents promptly put my Super Nintendo in the sink, plugged the drain, and drowned it in front of me like a public execution. This is what people did before Craigslist. They murdered inanimate objects in front of their children.

That was the end of my video gaming until fairly recently when I bought my own PlayStation 3. And wow — if you haven’t seen what they’ve done with these things, you should check it out immediately. We don’t have flying cars or personal robots making us dinner every night, but we do have pretty amazing gaming systems. Present day video games might be the only thing that’s actually lived up to the way futuristic movies portrayed them in the early ’90s. Take the Call of Duty franchise, for example. With the push of a button, your character is thrust into a 3D world where a full-scale 6-v-6 gun battle takes place. What’s more: you can communicate with your teammates and even with enemy combatants after the match is over.

That last bit is important. You can talk to the enemy. Now, typically, you’d be playing with friends — people you know personally. But, also typically, you’re matched up against completely random people of all ages, races, and creeds, who are identified only by a fictional player name of their choosing. In short: you have no way of knowing who you’re playing against or where they are or what they look like.

The Show: Secretly video tape children playing online video games when their parents aren’t home and then show it to the parents.

Why It Would Be Nothing Short of Amazing: Last night after our team won a match, I was aggressively called a nigger nine times, successively, by a fellow who (judging by vocal tone) could not possibly have been older than twelve. Just so we’re clear, by “successively,” I mean that there were no other words in between, probably no punctuation either, and he was screaming. Basically: “[My PS3 ID]’s a little nigger! NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER!”** (By the way, not that this really matters to the point I’m making, but if I fall asleep with the light on, I wake up sunburnt. I’m that kind of unfortunately pale, Irish white.)

In that moment, I realized that there was no limit — other than the obvious ceiling of my unfortunately low bankroll — to how much money I would pay to have a camera behind that kid and to see his mother’s face as she watched a live feed from a separate location. Dahmer’s folks don’t know shame like that. Of course, the thought of a parent approving this kind of behavior is equally terrifying. But in a perfect world, each episode would end with a child relentlessly sobbing out, “I’m sorry! Please, no!” as a PlayStation 3 is force-fed to a garbage disposal while plugged in with the water running.

The Tragic Truth: This was not an anomaly. If you play for a few hours, you will find this kid again. He might be a 38-year-old next time. His accent might be different. He might be a she. It won’t matter. Sooner or later, you’ll find the same kind of person, spewing out unfiltered hatred and vulgarity purely for the sake of spewing out unfiltered hatred and vulgarity. That’s what the absolute lack of accountability that exists in modern video game communities creates: a culture of complete verbal anarchy.

But as with most venues on the internet, people are never quite as anonymous as they think. From me, yes, people are completely invisible. I have an iPhone 5 on my desk right now that I can’t activate because I can’t figure out how to update my iTunes. So clearly, I cannot use an IP address to track down the real-time location of a racist twelve-year-old. But someone out there most certainly can, and should. And they should set up a video camera and record the kid playing. And they should show it to his mom. And they should record her reaction too. And they should show that to me.

And then they should hand me a plastic spoon so that I may begin to make good on my promised act of contrition for creating — though it may be the genre’s greatest achievement — another fucking reality show.



**In case anyone is offended by this part, I do apologize, but I feel that seeing it written out is a fairly accurate portrayal of how profoundly jarring it is to actually hear a young kid screaming it into a microphone.

[See also: Bob Sullivan’s Top 10 Worst Ideas for a Reality TV Show!]

Ian Micir is associate editor of When Falls the Coliseum. He graduated from Drexel University with a BA in English in June of 2012. During his time at Drexel, he won ten awards for writing, including five in his final year. Micir’s work has appeared in The 33rd – An Anthology and The Classical.

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