To indict ‘reality television’ for not being real is precisely to miss the point; rather, it is that the televisual structures our contemporary experience of reality. To speak of ‘America’s moral decline’ reeks of nuclear family, 1950s values. It is to take the mantle of the conservative right’s sententiousness and outfit oneself with it. It is not in our interest to revive such regressive rhetoric.
Any argument that need resort to the ‘slippery slope’ fallacy- the very same that 30 years ago would tendentiously assert ‘if a man can marry a man, where does it stop, it is a slippery slope to a man marrying his dog, etc. etc.’-, can be dismissed without further ado.
The argument of unthinking imitation based on what you view is old hat- 18 year gamers are not going out, stealing cars, and driving them across Venice Beach at 100 mph, running over multitudes of people in the process. It ignores the cathartic economy of art. ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ is fine if you disbelieve in people so much that you must equate their cognitive faculties with primates.
I will answer one question: ‘Documenting the escapades of a bunch of gay men on Fire Island may seem harmless, but what effect could it have on gay preteens who have yet to come out?’ It might make them aware that there are places where being openly gay can celebrated, place where there is a community- however flawed that community, like any, may be-, and that gayness can be unapologetic.
It is precisely a ‘normalization’ of this that we need. We have absolutely no duty to ‘elevate public perception of us as best as we can’. For them to accept us only on their own, sanitized terms would mean already to play directly into their hand and to lose the game.