Monday, April 26, 2010

That Is SO Real...

One of my guilty pleasures? America's Next Top Model. I tune in every week, either during its initial broadcast or online, and I catch marathons of the old cycles every so often on VH1 and Oxygen. The runway challenges and photo shoots are usually interesting, but often what makes the show is the behind-the-scenes banter, the in-house drama that divides the contestants and forces them to pick a side. And right in the center of it all is the same dilemma we face during every reality show smackdown, when one contestant begins to question another contestant's "realness." You always have that one upfront, in-your-face girl who calls everything as she sees it, for better or for worse (usually the latter), and her lackeys who revere her for it. Let's call them Group A. Then you have the quieter faction in the house, Group B, whose members badmouth their more abrasive house-mates behind their backs but generally don't go out of the way to confront them unless there is a specific reason to do so. Of course, there may be a few stragglers who lock themselves upstairs and wait for all of this to pass, but for the most part, the house is a war zone. Group A picks fights with Group B, who continues to discuss the fight privately, and when one member of Group A hears this, she claims that at least she's real and that the others are clearly fake. She will take pride in that fact, because being real is obviously, to her, the most important thing you can be.

Sometimes I wonder how this translates to real life. True, there is a bit of disconnect between television and reality (understatement of the year) but surely some of human nature does translate into those 30-minute / hour time slots. Plenty of people I know say that they value honesty above all else, but how true is that? Maybe you want people to be honest with you about the important things, like whether or not your boyfriend is cheating on you or whether or not you're about to make the biggest mistake of your life.

But what about the smaller truths? For example, if you get a hideous haircut that you love, do you really want your friends to tell you truthfully that you look like a mushroom? If you run into your friend's ex in the middle of a store, are you really going to go right up and yell in his/her face unprovoked?

Maybe you would. Maybe I'm not confrontational enough, and maybe it is important to stand by your beliefs no matter what. But in my opinion, too much confrontation and "realness" would cause the very fabric of our society to disintegrate as we know it. If we voiced every opinion we ever had and acted upon it, life would be complete chaos.

To me, a little bit of fake is okay when it accompanies a stronger truth. What do you think?


  1. I think it is always important to be honest, but I agree with you that in certain cases, being polite overrides being honest. It's basically a tradeoff between honesty and kindness...

  2. Exactly! I mean, if we totally threw all honesty to the wayside, we would also cause life to erupt into complete chaos. It's a fine line, really, because too much honesty can get ugly, but too much behind-the-scenes bickering can be worse. For the important things, honesty probably comes first, but for the lesser things, we should probably learn to bite our tongues and fake a smile.