Hell’s Kitchen & Other Forms of Indentured Servitude for Entertainment

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By @ChayseLove

In life its best to only discuss what you know. Sure its good to get involved and learn about things you are less informed on, but when blogging those rules do not apply. Reality TV,  I know. I am an avid watcher of this deliciously sinful genre of TV which affords folks from all walks of life a window into the lives of others, albeit a heightened experience thanks to the presence of cameras and the use of masterful editing. However, over the last 14 years, reality TV has gone from a naughty pleasure of sorts to just sad to witness. Lets start with “Survivor” (America). The show aired in 2000 and was groundbreaking at best. The idea of people on island trying to survive and win challenges, all while sleeping in huts and wearing rags was intriguing. So intriguing, in fact, that the show is still on to this day.  However times have changed drastically since the shows debut. Back in 2000 we just elected Bush Jr. & had yet to experience 9/11. Back then we didn’t constantly live under media driven fear of possible terror attacks. Or the very real threat of mass shootings, which occur on a monthly if not bi-weekly basis in our current times. Back in 2000 we also had a much smaller gap between the haves and the have nots. This was before the housing bubble burst, an endless war began, and before we plunged into a depression unlike ever before on American soil.

I guess that’s why the idea of make believe “Survivor”, sounded so fun. There’s a saying many people living in poor communities have about the rich, (loosely put) “They sky dive, bungy jump and do other crazy stunts to feel danger. The thrill of being alive after staring possible death in the face. Come walk around the hood and survive on a daily basis and you won’t need the thrill seeking at all.” To simplify, those of us from developed countries found shows like “Survivor” fun to sign up for because we lived in developed lands. There are people living like that somewhere out there and they probably would think we are crazy to do that for entertainment value. This is also true for shows like “Big Brother”. The concept of watching people isolated in a house filled with cameras was once a thing of some TV producers imagination. Now fast forward to 2014 and there isn’t a place that doesn’t have a camera on it. Heck, you can go to websites dedicated to streaming street cams or even Google earth and spy on your own neighbors. With all of the NSA reveals and the release of technology like smart phones (with cameras even in the ear piece) & Google Glass. Big Brother isn’t just a TV series, its our way of life.

Just look how eager people are to start recording every and anything they think will garner them views and thusly attention on YouTube. Or how the media froths at the mouth for these viral gems (regardless of whose lives it touches negatively) and run the story for hours, sometimes days. Times have changed. Which brings me to “Hell’s Kitchen” and other assorted competition reality shows. Once fun loving programs like “Double Dare” or “Pyramid”, these shows took on a new life as they decided to not just simply show the competitors on stage, but behind the scenes as well. In their rooms, eating their meals, and scuffling after losing a challenge. Bringing the audience closer to the competitors. Or so they claim. When “Hell’s Kitchen” arrived across the pond, once again, times were very different. People joined this new wave of TV programming willing, for fun. To try something new or maybe to get exposure on TV. Cut to 14 years later and people like Gordon Ramsey have made Millions by putting a different version of the show on in multiple countries. Hoarding wannabe chef after chef into production designed kennels. Churning out one season after another so fast that you forget the peoples names before the finale. Then like that a new crop of “talent” is ready to be humiliated for pennies on the dollar of the actual accumulated funds these shows rake in.

More often than not, the show actually does more harm to the people who appear on it then good. Its almost too hard to watch these days. As I sit and eat dinner, pulling this up on my DVR, I cringe a little. “Time to watch a Billionaire humiliate people who are clearly looking for a shot and need the money.” This season Ramsey’s producers have done everything they can to humiliate their indentured reality workers. Whether it’s sending farm animals into their rooms at 5:00 AM to wake them up, sort of the same way many slave owners did to their “workers” once upon a time, or the constant over dramatizing of poorly plated and under cooked food by Ramsey himself. Nothing proves how wide the wealth gap is more than watch a Multimillionaire yell at stressed, over worked, and desperate poor folks ,“You Cow! You stupid lil donkey! Get out of my face you shit! Its raw, you eat it!”   Reality competitions of the present have somehow become mirrors of the past. Much like the entertainment in roman coliseums. The wealthy enjoy watching the slaves fight amongst themselves and allow the poor workers of their court to indulge in this showing, as a sort of distraction from their own lives. Every episode Ramsey has the team who’s let him down go back and decide which of the slaves will be sacrificed for their sins. Two are chosen and usually one is sent packing. Then they are presented to their Boss (king) in front of the cooks (gladiators) for their (beheading) berating.  With a snarky comment by Ramsey in post production to boot. “He didn’t have the chops, so he got cut!”– Or something along those lines.

The fact is, as you watch people attempt to ‘survive’ an Amazing Race by starving to death and begging for shelter. Or watch people squirm in fear of their head chef so bad that they suffer heart attacks and slice their hands (routinely). Or subscribe to spy cameras from CBS to watch strangers bicker or possibly have sex. All you are doing is feeding A beast that never gets full. 14 years in and now we have shows about “Moonshiners” and trash pickers. If this isn’t the bottom of the barrel, I don’t want to see what that looks like. Life has literally imitated art when considering that so many of the rich have implored a new tag line for indentured servitude, they call it “Interning”. Now the rich have your kids working for free for a credit that may or may not help them get a job after college. Today so often young adults are interning even after college and being humiliated just the same as many of these reality competitors. Check out Sonja Morgan & her throngs of interns (because she cant pay them) on “The Real Housewives of New York City” if you’d like to see it unfold on reality TV.  As art also imitates life. We as a society also have become more aware that everything we do and say is being recorded and privacy is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Above all the middle class have become the poor and the poor in america have become the impoverished.  Wanna see people who barely have food to eat, wear rags, fight amongst each other, and are desperate for just one shot at a better life? Just take a ride through the inner cities and rural areas of america. No DVR Required.


Chayse LoveChayse Love Facebook: Facebook.com/chasemebaby (Must Be A Friend To View)

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