The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Mel White 

Refreshing Ninjas

On the Bright Side


August 4, 2018

Anyone who knows me knows I don't really like to watch "reality" TV, with one exception: "Survivor" is my one guilty pleasure, as it has been for the past 20 years. I've tried other "reality" shows but never lasted more than an episode or two before I got bored and/or disgusted and moved on.

Actually, I prefer being entertained or educated when I watch the tube, which leaves most reality shows out of the running. I love story-telling, so I'll often choose to watch episodic TV – mystery, cop shows, comedies, foreign, domestic, fantasies, historical. I have many favorite genres – and I will often choose documentaries or other informative fare. I do occasionally watch sports (women's basketball or women's softball, mostly) and of course the Olympics. Any of the above is always preferable to me over watching a bunch of people on current "reality" TV try to see who can be the ugliest or the angriest or the meanest, or lately, the dumbest.

I think starting with Jerry Springer so many years ago, there has been a certain fascination with "reality" TV – seeing how other people screw up their lives and/or do their loved ones wrong, and the worst and more outrageous a person acts, the more popular they become. Morphed into competitions like "Big Brother" and "The Amazing Race" (and even "Survivor") the reality shows today also like to prompt people to lie and cheat and berate their competitors on camera.

I have, however, discovered another reality competition show that is entertaining to me and, to my surprise, one of the most positive and affirmative shows I ever see on television. That show is "American Ninja Warrior."

It's now another pleasure for me and I look forward to it, and I don't even call it a "guilty pleasure" – it's just a pleasure. The reason I like it so much is that it stands out as different from other shows in so many ways.

It is a competition, but the contestants (i.e. the Ninja Warriors) compete one at a time, trying to finish a really grueling course of five physically challenging obstacles. There are no rules, no subjective judging of style or form or time; if they fall in the water tank below an obstacle, they are done. The course is the same for both men and women, for short or tall people, for younger or older people. Some are fast, some are slow, some don't make it past the first challenge.

What stands out to me, in addition to being impressed with the skill and determination of the people who compete, everything about the competition is positive. There are no villains, no one is trying to knock someone off an obstacle, there is no way to lie or cheat your way through, no controversy (you either finish the course or you don't). There is no booing, no chatter trying to distract an athlete, nothing but wild cheers from family and friends, competitors and announcers alike.

The focus of the show is simply and purposefully positive. I can't really think of another show that presents the same way. Most reality shows – competitions, sports or otherwise – seem to rely on someone winning and making someone else look bad, not to mention that most of the shows can be (and are) edited to make them more interesting than they might be, especially to make someone look badder or meaner or dumber than they really are.

These days especially, I am so glad I found this show. It is a wonderful antidote to listening to the daily news, or just being around grumpy or unhappy or angry people in real reality. How refreshing it would be if life could be more like American Ninja Warrior, where people challenge themselves and work hard to achieve a goal and other people cheer them on, where no one is trying to out-do anyone else or trying to thwart someone else's dream, where no one is discouraging another person or making judgments about who should be doing what, or how they should be doing it, or why.

Where people come together to encourage and inspire and celebrate the good and decent and positive side of the human experience.

© Copyright Marilda White. Mel White, a local photographer and writer who probably would not survive on either "Survivor" or "American Ninja Warrior" but she loves watching other people take those challenges. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]


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