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Barbara Walking in the Valley
A weekly column for those who live and walk in Silicon Valley

by Barbara Dahlgren

Get Real
Column for the week of September 8-14, 2002

Reality TV seems to be the latest fad. We can see everything from A to Z, well to W anyway. To name a few, we have the Amazing Race, the Bachelor, the Bachelorette, Big Brother, Fear Factor, the Real World, Spy TV, Temptation Island, and the World Wrestling Federation's Tough Enough. Then there are the Survivors of Australia, Africa, and Thailand. And of course we have the Anna Nicole Show, which is surreal if you get my meaning. She can make you glad to be poor and normal. We might as well get used to Reality TV. It's here to stay.....for a while anyway. I even read in USA Today they are scouting the country for a real hillbilly family of 5or more that hasn't been exposed to big city life or many luxuries for a new reality TV show called the Real Beverly Hillbillies. They will live in a Beverly Hills mansion and a camera will follow them for a year to see how they adjust. It read, "To apply please call" and a phone number followed. I wonder what kind of real hillbilly family reads USA today?

Lumped into the Reality TV category is the American Idol show. It's been described as a cross between Ted Mack's Amateur Hour and Star Search. Over 10,000 people signed up to participate in the TV talent contest. 10,000 became the top 100. The top 100 became the top 50 and then there were only 10. Each week viewers decided who would remain and who would go. Last Wednesday night the field was narrowed to just one winner, Kelly Clarkson, a 20-year-old waitress from Texas who beat curly-headed, Justin Guarini. It took 13 weeks to eliminate the competition and hook viewers. Everyone was talking about their favorite performers and debating about who should win. But no one will emerge a loser from those top ten. Although Kelly wins a recording contract, all will go on tour. And don't worry if you missed these American Idol shows, we will be having more and more and more and more of them, I'm sure. After all, doesn't everyone want to be an idol? An idol is worthy of admiration, devotion, even praise. An idol is our hero.

Just about one year ago, our heroes were people who gave their lives in the 9-11 tragedy. Our heroes were policemen, firemen, Red Cross workers, volunteers, pilots, passengers, those in the military, and bereaved family members. The terrorist attack on the US should have boosted people into a deeper state of spiritual awareness, brought them closer to each other, and perhaps closer to God. And for a very short time that was true but the reality is evident in a poll taken by the George Barna organization:

"Almost nine out of ten Americans say the terrorist attacks have had no lasting
impact on their faith."

"Compared to just prior to the attacks there has been no change in personal
religious activity levels such as church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, etc..."

"People's religious beliefs have gone unchanged in the past year."

"Adults are not more likely to believe in absolute truth today than they were on
September 10, 2001."

Do I begrudge the American Idol the fulfillment of her dream? No! I'm happy her foot fits in the glass slipper. But if Americans want to idolize someone let's get real. Let's remember what happened a year ago. We have a whole list of people to choose from: those who protect us, keep us safe, comfort us, pray for us, feed us, fight our wars. In all reality, I doubt if a singer would make the top 10.

©September 2002

Be sure to visit this page every week to read the next edition of Walking in the Valley. You can write to the author at bdahlgren@wcgsouthbay.org.



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