In this fascinating short documentary named Creating a Monster, screenwriter, Gene Lida Riess explores the dark side to being on a reality TV show. She investigates how distractions are constructed within controlled environments.
Riess interviews numerous reality TV stars, ranging from The Bachelor to Big Brother. The name of the documentary says it all; images across the screen in reality TV are misrepresented to make the individual seem like someone else, like a monster.
Riess highlights numerous ideas, including ideas based on how producers get what they truly desire out of participating reality contestants, by stereotyping people, and how individuals on the shows are perceived by the wider audience as certain characters.
The rawness of these interviews is displayed in the honesty of the reality stars, including their emotional instability when asked to share how the producers made them seem like someone else compared to who they truly are. “The people who go on reality TV are the people who are unsettled in life”, Boog, a 2013 Big Brother intruder tells the audience.
There are a lot of moments within this documentary which capture the dark side of reality TV, with the lighting helping to display this. While the interviews are conducted in the light, in between takes, the camera flashes back to an individual watching this particular short film on a big screen, alone, in the dark, sitting mindlessly and eating snacks. This may display the ignorance of watching a reality TV show for an individual’s enjoyment, without realising the impact of what these reality stars face once the TV show is over. The online bullying, misplaced identity and threats are all a part of what individuals who feature on these shows potentially undertake. Riess reinforces the statement within the film that individuals need to be aware of the detrimental effects that being on reality TV causes.
Furthermore, Riess explores why individuals watch reality TV in the first place. Factors such as enjoyment or people identifying with individuals on reality TV are elements explored. This is a crucial documentary to today’s society, and is a thrilling take as reality TV shows become more prominent.
Secret Matters screens as part of the St Kilda Film Festival from 18th to 27th May.