Are Reality TV Producers Liable?

When asked why producers should be held liable for actions these people would more likely than not be engaging in, even if they weren't being recorded, Johnson said that producers are still enablers when they watch participants drink and use the footage for entertainment purposes.

Has Reality TV Gone Too Far?

Liable or not under the law, pop culture authorities told ABCNEWS.com that they think many producers cross the line during filming of these shows, and that ethics and morals should play a role in decision-making when contestants put themselves and others in danger.

"I think [reality television] is taking more extreme actions," said Liam O'Brien, pop culture expert and professor at the school of communications at Quinnipiac University, in Connecticut. "I think producers really do have to look at this and not intentionally put people in dangerous situations, and then have plans to get people out of these situations as they arise. You have to act ethically, even if that means scrapping the episode."

Elayne Rapping, a professor of American studies at Buffalo University who specializes in popular culture, agrees with O'Neil. She said that if producers were to really take responsibility for the danger inherent in many reality shows, the number of shows out there would decrease dramatically.

"I think that the direction that [reality television] is going is increasingly morally questionable and is also sort of the bottom of the barrel of American culture," said Rapping. "It would probably mean they'd have to cancel the shows, because there is no control over the people in them. These people are addicts, and they're out of control. I don't see how these producers could guarantee safety.

"Sure, they're still going to [act dangerously, away from cameras], but to see them self-destruct as a form of entertainment is really offensive," said Rapping. "I think the producers should be held responsible for that, because they're putting on the show to make money, and with no regard whatsoever for the people they are putting in these situations. I think that's kind of sick."

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