Truth and lies and videotape

The BBC admits a trailer for a programme on the queen was re-edited to give the wrong impression, TV phone in quizzes turn out to be falsified and fraudulent, Discovery has admitted that Bear Grylls’ survival programmes aren’t as authentic as they seem, he often sleeps in a nice motel and not under some desert rock with a lizard as we thought (personally I was more pissed off with seeing him killing a frog by biting its head off to then eat it. Survival trick maybe, but killing an animal like that isn’t necessary for a bloody TV programme, is it?)

… Gee, guess what? TV isn’t real! Even reality shows aren’t real. So why are we surprised? Yes, they were attempted to create a misleading impression, but all texts, every single text any person creates, from a simple photograph to a TV programme or film is informed by choices about how it is structured to give a particular impression, consciously or unconsciously; in media studies it is referred to as the paradigmatic and syntagmatic elements of the text, the selection and combination of elements desired to give a certain effect. The big surprise here is that anyone is really surprised that even factual programmes aren’t the solid, objective, truthful beam of light we might like to think. Everything is edited, everything even before being edited was decided to be shot in a certain way with certain light with certain people, places… What you see is only half the story at best and if a lot of folks have forgotten that – as it seems from the surprise – then it is a good lesson to relearn. Mind you, it does make you think about how we decide to base our opinions on anything and also consider just what is truth and what is real?