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Opinion :: Reality TV vs. reality: An example close to home
· 9:10am September 3rd, 2013
The headline for this column could say, “TV personality arrested near Vinton!”
That statement is technically true – and it is most likely the way that a television producer would entice you to keep tuned in after the commercials, if this story were to be included on their newscast.
Someone who gained attention on reality television last year was indeed arrested near Vinton recently.
I could spend hours ranting about how much I despise reality TV – how reality TV has nothing to do with reality, how it puts in front of us people with nothing worthy of hearing. I could tell you how that as soon as I hear the name of a reality “star” mentioned in any way, I say “click” and change the station.
But instead, today, I will just say: “Look.”
Look at the photos that accompany this column.
Two photos, taken between a year and two apart, of the same woman.
Two photos worth, metaphorically speaking, a thousand words.
The photo on the left shows Jessica Hill, the Iowa woman who was convicted of helping murder her husband, Shane, in 2007, on a farm near Boone. The photo shows Hill speaking to a camera for a reality TV show called “Snapped,” which is dedicated entirely to telling the stories of women accused of murder.
I have already given Hill more attention than she deserves, but basically, according to court records, she convinced her boyfriend to have a friend kill her husband. All three were found guilty of murder, but Hill’s conviction was overturned because one witness was allowed to offer “hearsay” evidence. Hill later pleaded guilty to conspiracy and has since been released from jail.
As an enemy of reality TV, I had never heard of Jessica Hill – neither had I heard of the series that featured her in 2012.
But as a small town editor, I have heard of Hill. She was arrested after nearly running into an accident scene on Saturday, Aug. 26. Hill, who had been cited for driving without a license in December of 2012, was charged in Benton County with failure to have a valid license, failure to provide proof of insurance, failure to maintain control and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was also wanted on felony warrants for four counts of forgery in Dubuque.
The photo on the right, courtesy of the Benton County Jail, shows Hill the way she appears when she is not on reality TV.
Not everyone on reality TV, of course, has a criminal record.
But the difference between reality and reality TV are as stark and obvious as the differences in those two photos.
Make-up artists and lighting experts can disguise the physical flaws of just about anyone, but reality TV can’t mask the fact that our society through this medium has turned into front-page celebrities too many people whose words and deeds merit nothing more than a mention in the police blotter.
I know that you, as a reader of this column, are way above wasting time on that reality TV nonsense. But the next time you see someone who still thinks reality TV has anything to do with reality, show them this photo.
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