Conflict is a key ingredient in storytelling. That is because even life itself cannot be interesting if people, things, and animals do not collide. I mean, even nature sometimes fights humans. It’s the way the world is set up.
I believe that we expect friction and discord all the time, both in the real and social media world. Sometimes, when things are too glossy and devoid of hurdles, we begin to question if it isn’t a fluke or if there’s no ulterior motive somewhere. Life itself is gbas-gbos; humans want to question things and be challenged. We want to be sure but still experience uncertainty once in a while. We all wish that our lives would be smooth and obstacle-free, still, we expect a little hitch here and there, something to remind us that we are humans after all, and that life isn’t perfect. Tell, where’s the fun if you can predict everything, including the future?
In storytelling or scriptwriting, conflict is a major literary element that creates challenges and adds uncertainty to the plot, and we can say that it has transcended into reality TV. In the nonfictional world, humans are naturally wired to expect conflict – no matter how little. So you expect that when people come together, either under the same roof or for a common goal or course, they must, at some point, disagree and quarrel.
But what happens when you watch a movie and it seems that all there is to it are conflict, conflict management, conflict mismanagement and gbas-gbos? Or where the protagonist is always in trouble or fighting with something or someone? Or imagine a life that is solely filled with conflict, say challenges upon challenges, stress, fight, wahala left and right. You know how tiring that can be, shey? Remember that your neighbour who is always fighting? How you roll your eyes when you hear him/her holding another person’s shirt and screaming at the top of their voice? You know that feeling of ‘nawa o, again?’ That is how I feel when I watch some reality TV and reunion shows. Nasoso gbas-gbos, gbos-gbas, exchanging hurtful and vile words and grabbing hairs. And, honestly, I find it tiring.
Don’t get me wrong, reality TV shows are great and they offer the main thing they are created for: entertainment. No one is also expecting a lack of conflict in a reality TV show (the word “reality” is not only for show). We expect that people would fight, quarrel, disagree, love each other, form friendships and all. But isn’t there a problem when these conflicts consistently take the centre of the stage? When they seem to be the entertainment of the show. When you can no longer talk about the show without mentioning how this person removed that person’s wig or that person tried to flog this person with a belt. When it is the conflict or the gist of it that propels you to watch the show.
Conflict is needed to keep the viewers engaged, create an emotional response, and ultimately, push the show forward. On many occasions, when no one is disagreeing at the top of their voices, or pretending to want to tear each other’s skins apart, people would tag the show as “boring”. But as we watch these shows, we need to question our own values as people and ask ourselves why conflict excites us so. Why is it that which draws us to these shows? Why is conflict the main reason we think a show is ‘real’? Why do we assume the participants who choose peace over conflicts are being pretentious and “forming holy holy”? Is it that we believe reality TV shows have nothing more to offer us, or that no form of entertainment trumps conflict? When it comes to watching reality TV shows, what really does it for you?