Occasionally, I watch some TV. Sometimes, I even pay attention to it! There are only a handful (or two) of shows I will dedicate time to watch, with varying degrees of attentiveness. For a couple of seasons, now, there has been one reality-competition show that has been wholly entertaining and, I believe, somewhat unique in its approach (or at least how it is presented via editing). I’m talking about the SyFy show Face Off.
While I haven’t been a fan of most reality competition shows (with a major exception being the first 8-9 seasons of The Amazing Race), I find Face Off to be interesting, refreshing, entertaining and human (well, at least the competitors and judges). At various times over the past few seasons, my wife and I have commented back and forth to each other how much we really appreciate the contestants, their abilities, but primarily their willingness to collaborate, cooperate and assist the other artists (aka The Competition).
Other reality competition shows like Big Brother, Survivor, Ink Master, etc., seem to thrive on (dare I say encourage?) the drama created by incredible levels of narcissism, hidden alliances, half-truths, deception, blindsides, backdoors and what not, all under the virtue of “gameplay.” I suppose Survivor likely started the trend with its signature tagline of “Outwit-Outplay-Outlast,” license to do whatever is necessary to become the winner (for at least a season). Very often, competitors will justify their actions as “part of the game,” sort of the idea of “It’s just business; nothing personal.”
Somehow, Face Off, or more specifically its contestants, seem to avoid these tactics (or they are cleverly edited out). There appears to be a genuine respect and camaraderie among a group of wildly talented artists all vying for the prize and the ability to advance their careers. Time and again, they help one another with creative input, constructive critiques, moral support when things go wrong, tips and tricks, physical labor, whatever, taking time away from their own efforts to do so, possibly putting their own creations at risk.
It finally dawned on me that the reason for this may simply be that all the competitors have to do is their jobs – create imaginative make-up and character effects to the best of their abilities. THEN, let a panel of judges have the only assessment, critique and final word. You see, in the other shows, the tribes, house guests, racers and inkers all get a say (directly or indirectly) or a vote in who continues and who does not. You’re probably smart enough to have figured that out, already, and maybe that’s a favorite aspect of other type of reality competitions (I’m not judging you, if so).
Of course, I’m sure it is not always sunny in the background of Face Off. BUT, they have consistently presented a show where the competitors are (seemingly) only limited by their talent and time management.
Perhaps there is some subliminal message here about how we ought to be toward one another even if, and especially when, there isn’t a prize to be had. Maybe, just maybe, we could learn something from the creators and collaborators of such amazing and horrifying creature/characters.