Cut Reality ISBN: 9781733504911 Anywhere Press, written by Zack Hacker.
Jason Debord is a College English Professor who decides to become a contestant in the 50th TV Reality Show where two teams of contestants spend sixty days on small islands with no clothes or means of survival other than those they can devise. Periodically, a member is voted out and the rest realign themselves until only one is declared the winner. Conditions are difficult with insufficient food, extremely difficult sleeping arrangements and constant tension to avoid being the next to be voted off the island. One of the participants with whom Jason was most friendly dies, reported by the show’s producers as a suicide. Jason does not believe it was suicide and continues to accuse the producers of murder even after the show’s termination and he was declared the one million dollar winner. He believes that the death resulted from the producers desire to give further life to the series that was beginning to lose its general appeal. One, and possibly more, of the contestants also are critical. However, none can discover any evidence and a number of unusual occurrences seem to support his contentions, among them a near fatal automobile accident. Meanwhile, Jason’s involvement with his intermittent love interest expands and finally reaches a plateau because, as a consulting psychologist albeit mostly with disturbed teens, she find his paranoia difficult to accept. However, the story continues with numerous activities pointing both ways until its ultimate conclusion.
Discussion: This book, the author’s first, has presented an apparent mystery that expands to provide very thoughtful commentary about reality TV. The last pages of Chapter 11 aptly express these basic thoughts under the title “Dying for good TV: What we can learn from Bill Gerding’s Untimely Demise.” From this reviewer’s perspective, the tale’s characters never are particularly well defined, quite a number of features also would benefit from further attention and the romantic relationship is a little difficult to understand. However as a first endeavor, the author is to be commended and further presentations no doubt will be well worthwhile.
4* Thoughtful look at America’s Reality TV near addiction.