Israel is a very small country, yet somehow has the same amount of reality shows as there are in the USA. This reality-country size ratio makes those shows the center of the public eye. EVERYBODY watches at least two reality shows, and every Israeli knows at least one reality contestant personally. It is obvious that almost every season, a reality incident reaches the headlines and stays there until the next one comes along. As I write these words, the newsrooms and news websites are having major discussions about one big reality incident that rocked the holy land, and unlike usually, I am not being sarcastic.
It’s Saturday night. The semi-finals of the Israeli “The Voice” airs. About half the country stares at the screen as one of the live performances ends, and the mentor is about to hand out the verdict. It is a sure fact that Yuval Dayan will win not only the semi-finals, but the entire season. She was marked as the favorite from her first audition. Just when the mentor, Shlomi Shabat, was about to open his mouth, the 17 year-old announces that she has had enough. She said she was missing school and her friends, and that she is simply not ready to handle this pressure. At that moment - at least for every Israeli who has been watching T.V at the time – the world stopped spinning.
The following day, all the major newspapers had her face all over the center section. The eight o’clock news had special panels discussing the dramatic moment. News and entertainment websites were packed with surfers’ comments, not to mention almost all Israeli Facebook status.
I guess you could laugh to yourself, thinking how ridiculous this is. I mean, reality drama happens all the time, and that’s what E! is for. At first, I reacted the same way. As a person who (pretends to) never watch reality television, I found it absurd that while missiles are being shot, and the U.N is having trouble in finding its way, the last thing that matters is a teenager who got tired of the sudden fame, as if she didn’t know what to expect when auditioning for a reality show…A day later, when I noticed the Israeli media insisted on keeping discussing the event of that night, I had a realization. Israel is all about real life drama. We are under constant threat, and we live up each other’s behinds, so there is nowhere to hide. We need to deal with serious issues and are all a part of every single event that has something to do with us, and occurs either in or out of our small territory. We are connected by an infusion from the daily paper, having stress wrinkles added to our morning routine. With all that being said, we somehow succeed in being constantly happy.
We have many ways of making this joy possible. One of them is by making a big deal out of a minor reality drama. Sometimes we have to put the real life drama aside, and discuss passionately a teenager’s discussion; we are Israelis, after all. We have to use our superhero ability of being nosy and argue about whether this person, who most of us know nearly nothing about, made the right decision or not. We need to come up with a conspiracy which claims it was a clever PR move towards the finals, and that the production was prepared for this farewell speech. We have to admire that girl for challenging the reality industry by saying “enough.” We have to look up to her, for she is a true Israeli, who does whatever she wants, and no one can stop her.
We must hate and love reality shows at the same time, because despite our constant criticism for the low intellectual level, it provides us a great escape…