Kate Durbin on Reality TV

by on Feb.14, 2012

Kate Durbin, sometime Montevidayaoan, has an essay up about Reality TV on Burnaway.


Reality TV: the most disgraced, disgraceful art medium in the world.

Reality TV: heralded by no one, watched by everyone. This makes it a total shame. Uh, I mean sham.

Reality TV: takes as its subject “real life,” then subjects real life to BLATANT manipulation.

Reality TV: simultaneously makes of and reveals life as construction. This is offensive to those who view themselves as elite victims at the blind hands of a private fate.

Reality TV: a brave new world where there are no victims, only co-conspirators. Where everyone is witness, and destiny is public, participatory, sympathetic, savage.

She also has a chapbook out on Insert Press called E! Entertainment. My favorite section is a really disturbing appropriation of a video of Anna Nicole Smith and her son. Here’s an excerpt:

“Riley, Age 7: We’re gonna use these first, bunny. You can open your eyes. Close em. Now close em. I wish you could go on the waterslides. But you’re pregnant. If you’re pregnancy, your heart’s bad, if you have a broken bone, or a back condition. I read teh signs! Yep. You can’t. Your other – your baby down here. Why aren’t you pooting, then, or does it hurt? She does. The clown needs some medicine…”

It’s a frightening piece of carnivalesque that refuses easy distinctions between simulacra and “reality”, “reality TV” and heart-break. Very powerful.

(Get it at Insert Press.)

Reminds me of Swedish writer (and Montevidayoan) Sara Tuss Efrik’s “Automanias” that we published on Action, Yes a while back:

To Chin-Chin and Grandmother’s Paintings

I am the Twin Girl who breeds new degenerate species. I happen to be the Siamese Girl who consists of different parts that come loose. The Puzzle Animals escape from me. I am the Twin Girl or the Siamese Girl. It is impossible to magnify me. I am two girls or many. I have been doubled in all eternity, been polished aglow. I have a necklace around my own throat. I am We.

In our visible breastcage hides the Rabbit. We do not want to release her. We do not want to allow her to wander along the horizon, on the skin-sky; on the path to the fence. Not over the mountain nor up-and-down on the golden frame. We do not want to bury her in the blackest blackness, behind the cloth, at the lookout place or anywhere else for that matter…

2 comments for this entry:
  1. Lara Glenum

    Love the idea of “subject[ing] Reality to the operating theater,” Kate!

  2. Kate D

    Thank you, Lara! Your work subjects it all to the operating theater, which is why it’s my fav.