It's not that plastic surgery on a reality show surprises me--but rather what happened afterwards, when Heidi visited her mom. The reality show went with Heidi on her trip, and captured perhaps the most real moment that has ever been on the show. Here's my interpretation, in quotes:
Mom: Why do you think you have to look like everyone else?
Heidi: I was never going to be happy with the way I looked until I fit exactly into the Hollywood-definition of beautiful
Mom: But you were so beautiful and confident before you went to LA and all this "STUFF" happened.
Heidi: Are you saying that I don't look good? (crying)
Mom: (crying) I don't want to say that you don't look good, since what's done is done, but I just feel so sad that you went through "THIS"
Heidi: (crying) You have no idea what I have been through. You don't know how hard "IT" is for me.
So what is 'this' 'stuff' or 'it'? Obvious to anyone with half a brain, being on the show the Hills. I don't think Heidi is innocent, she has certainly done whatever she could to get her piece of the spotlight and that isn't MTV's fault. And yet, I really do think there is something wrong with a television show basically recording as a girl gets manipulated by an insane man (Spencer) and gets an insane amount of plastic surgery, all while pretending the show itself has nothing to do with the decisions she is making. Why is it okay for 'reality' television to basically ruin individuals lives and then keep recording as if the shit show had nothing to do with them?
I guess what I'm wondering is where do we draw the line. Can we let people consent to anything? What would people say if they created an AIDS reality show, where they could infect individuals with the virus and then record what happened to them? That seems wrong--since it's a physical harm. But what the fuck. If as you are recording someone they develop a mental illness and ruin their life because of the attention you are putting on them, it's just okay to keep going? Jon and Kate plus 8 are another great example of this. I shudder to think how those kids are going to turn out now. And the show was on THE LEARNING CHANNEL.
We have a bias against mental suffering, probably because we are still somewhat conditioned to believe that mental illness is self-caused and can be self-cured. Which is true in a sense, but there is no denying that being brought into the media spotlight causes mental and emotional problems, which are then exploited further and promoted by the show, which continues the cycle until it escalates to situations like Heidi and Spencers. This is wrong, and television producers should be held accountable.