Column: The summer of unreality

The running of the bulls, a tradition in Pamplona, Spain, got under way this weekend, and here’s a shocker, people got hurt. Not just hurt, gored. Even the word sounds painful.

The running of the bulls has always baffled me. Why in the world would you try to outrun a 1,000-pound animal?

Do the people who run with the bulls really think they’ll beat the bull? Granted, the people who run do so voluntarily; it is their choice whether they are gored in the butt by a bull’s horn. But I ask again, why?

Bull-running falls into the “reality show” category of Fear Factor and the new The Worst Case Scenario Show.

I have never been interested in these shows. I don’t want to see regular people or celebrities submerged in a vat of snakes or rats or teetering on the edge of a hundred story building with no net beneath them.

Maybe the millions of people who watch these shows take some joy in living vicariously through the thrill-seekers who sign up for this “fun,” but, personally, that kind of gross-out thrill-seeking simply grosses me out.

The worst offender of this thrill-seeking mentality is a show that will debut on NBC in two weeks. Meet My Folks will have three potential husbands going with their “intended” to meet her parents.

The parents will pick the man who is right for their daughter after they have subjected him to lie detector tests, interviewed his ex-girlfriends and made him as uncomfortable as possible.

While many people may not think this kind of show falls into the Fear Factor category, think about it for a minute. What could be more frightening than meeting your potential in-laws on national television?

While I think the entire concept is as absurd as any other “reality show,” this one has to take the cake in the embarrassment and humiliation categories. What would you say about your ex to his/her future in-laws? Many of us may not harbor any ill will against our former flames, but just think of the power. You could say anything. Not that I would, but you never know who these guys might have dated.

Almost as insane is Fox’s new 30 Seconds of Fame, in which contestants only have 30 seconds to do something completely outrageous that grabs the judges’ attention and the prize money. In one promo ad, some guy had actually lit his eyebrows on fire. Maybe he needs to fly over to Spain and run with the bulls.

Not only will we be subjected to these shows, but Big Brother 3 debuts on CBS sometime this month, along with a new season of Road Rules on MTV, and a new season of Survivor is in the works.

The reality show onslaught is never ending, and as long as people continue to stay glued to their televisions while people eat roaches and jump out of burning airplanes, the rest of the television audience will have to endure the stupidity of such extremists.

I won’t say that I don’t occasionally get hooked on The Real World, but Big Brother 3?

I’d love to let some bulls loose in that house.

Megan Sullivan is The Oracle’s opinion