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Summary: Given the popularity of reality TV shows, this series challenges Christians to consider God’s True Reality.

Rev. Lin Smalec Salem Church, Waynesboro, PA

TRUE REALITY - EXTREME MAKEOVER

30 October 2005

Reality TV - ya gotta love it, right? There are no other shows on TV these days that include such drama, suspense, and comedy! And we can even say that reality TV is educational - I don’t know about you, but I sure do learn alot from those shows! Of course, what we learn may be of questionable value, but that’s besides the point.

Speaking of education - I recently read about a family from a remote area of the country that was making their first visit to a big city. They checked in to a grand hotel and stood in amazement at the impressive sight. Leaving the reception desk, they came to the elevator entrance. They’d never seen an elevator before, and just stared at it, unable to figure out what it was for. An old lady hobbled towards the elevator and went inside. The door closed, and about a minute later, the door opened and out came a stunningly good-looking young woman. Dad couldn’t stop staring, his mouth open wide in amazement. Without turning his head he patted his son’s arm and said, "Go get your mother, son!” (1)

Now that’s entertainment! Last week I made the point that reality TV is not reality! Reality is defined as “the fact, state or quality of being real or genuine”. (2) Reality TV shows may be unscripted and the characters may not be actors, but that does not mean that reality TV is truly real or genuine!

Now a case could be made that this is not true of the makeover shows. Reality shows like “Extreme Makeover”, “I Want a Famous Face” and “The Swan” may seem all too real in their graphic depictions of surgical transformation. How many of you have seen any of these shows, or the others out there like them?

“Extreme Makeover” and “The Swan” both feature people, mostly women, who were rather plain or who had physical characteristics that they felt negatively impacted their lives, such as a large nose, small breasts, or a receding chin. These people are given the chance to undergo a complete physical makeover, including cosmetic dentistry to give them a perfect smile, breast enhancement, tummy tucks, and of course facial surgery such as a nose job or face lift. The tremendous cost of these enhancements is covered by the show. In addition, the participants are given life coaching, hair and makeup advice, exercise and diet consultation, and a new wardrobe. They go through a great deal of physical and emotional pain to become a new person. When they return home, they are transformed - at least on the outside!

“I Want a Famous Face” takes this transformation idea one step further. This MTV gem features young people who are not necessarily plain or disfigured, but who want to look like someone famous. So they visit a plastic surgeon to get a nose like Jennifer Aniston’s or a chin like George Clooney’s. Unlike the other shows, they pay for the surgery themselves - MTV merely documents the process and results, some of which are not very attractive!

Sadly, these reality shows reflect what is really going on in our culture today. We have become so immersed in what our popular culture declares as attractive that many of us would willingly pay for plastic surgery to make ourselves look younger and fitter. We can’t even accept a few well-earned wrinkles - look at the popularity of Botox injections and wrinkle fillers! And men - don’t you look around and laugh at the women - you guys are becoming just as vain and worried as we are - more and more men are signing up for face lifts and Botox treatments! Many of us might be tempted to dream, just for a few minutes, about having a physical makeover - because let’s face it, it is the rare person who is truly and completely happy with their face and body!

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