First of all, for those of you who might not know, the SAT now includes an essay portion. Second of all, one recent version of the test included an essay prompt that contained the following question about reality television: “How authentic can these shows be when producers design challenges for the participants and then editors alter filmed scenes?”
So, now SAT questions can just be based on things people complain about on blogs? Perhaps next year they’ll ask if the end of Lost was bullsh*t or not. “For an ABC show about a loosely constructed world where rules were always a bit hazy, is it okay for the finale to include even more hazy rules and never answer some of the deepest questions posed in the series?”
You have to imagine that some of the kids most pumped to do well on the SAT might be among the least likely to watch and have a serious opinion on reality television. If you have a tiger mom, you’re probably not watching a lot of Real Housewives.
And the whole reality TV vs. actual things tension has special meaning for me because it was the basis of the biggest fight I had with my roommate freshman year of college. It was Tuesday, the night of the 2002 midterm elections, and instead of election coverage, my roommate demanded to watch the new episode of The Real World on MTV. I tried to yell at him about the irony of wanting to watch a show called The Real World instead of coverage of an actual event that would shape the future of the real world, but I lost the argument. I’m still pretty bitter about it.
Best actual quote from a student who was upset about the reality show question: “I ended up talking about Jacob Riis and how any form of media cannot capture reality objectively. I kinda want to cry right now.”