When I was growing up (the age of black and white TVs with round picture tubes) the local weatherman would drag his Plexiglas map onto the sidewalk and write backwards, so it looked okay to the camera, while various people tried to get into the picture. I guess you’d consider it the mid-twentieth century version of photo bombing.
Then there were game shows. If someone’s vacation took them near the Price is Right studios, they’d stand in line for hours dressed like a turnip or something, yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!” If they got picked and made a complete fool of themselves on national television, they would call all their friends, everybody they knew, and everybody their friends knew to make sure everyone knew the channel, date, and time to watch them.
It was not a quantum leap to the “reality” game shows, like Survivor, which have as much to do with reality as the US Tax Code.
I read today in Biblical Archaeological Review about an archeologist who changed his professional opinion on a particular ancient artifact just so—you guessed it—he could be on TV.
It’s no wonder that we’re seeing nut cases get as many guns as they can carry and shoot up a theater/school/colonic therapy center/or whatever. Why? Because they know, live or die, for the next few weeks, a couple of months after that, and on the anniversary of their savagery, their picture and name will be all over the television, newspapers, internet, and possibly even the cover of Time?
What would you be willing to do to be on television?