I have been thinking recently about Channel Four’s new reality show ‘7 days’… If you haven’t seen it before Its quite a new kind of premise. Basically the show runs each week in tandem with a live twitter type chat feed where viewers and contributors can comment on the lives of the people in the show directly as they see them. The characters can respond to viewers and as an aditional dimension each characters airtime in the upcoming shows depends on their profile and notoriety online. As their following grows on chat-nav their profile increases on the show… less popular characters can be cut out of the show completely if they fail to illicit a response from the online audience.
This is pretty interesting and if you have a look online at www.sevendays.channel4.com you can clearly see which of the shows protagonists are going down well and which are floundering. Unfortunately the anonymity of the internet seems to be bringing the worst out of the british population! the chatnav star in terms of page views is a guy called Ben who is widely seen as a bit of a knob. There is a big difference between notoriety and popularity… the nicest most ‘popular’ characters on the show dont seem to do well while the most reviled characters gain the most airtime. I can’t help wondering whether in a few weeks time it will be a show populated entirely by internet created pantomime villains. And the cut- throat popularity contest nature of the show’s format is meaning that some of the most boring characters are even being eclipsed, in terms of page views, by the dog ‘onion’.
If we thought we’ve seen our share of messed up reality TV stars, I can’t help but wonder what this next crop of ‘interactive’ reality tv stars will end up like. The person who says “I don’t care what people think of me” is obviously lying and this new show takes that statement to the extreme. To be constantly judged online in real time and fully accessable 24-7 is unimaginable to me and I honestly don’t know if fame would be worth that. The positive sounding justifications for this show… breaking boundaries… ‘creating a pool of wisdom for characters on their daily lives’! are proving to be a load of tosh and online commentators are simply using the shows interactivity to judge these people in a simple ‘oh I love you’ ‘oh I hate you’ way. Its all very strange but obviously as reality entertainment, I’ve fallen hook line and sinker.