In the realm of reality TV, pushing the frontier becomes taxing on the contestants. Yet, a new form of sensualism is required when voyeurism doesn’t fill the thirst of the spectator. “Concentration” is the latest show in reality TV depicting suffering as an entertaining performance.
Acide Sulfurique by Amelie Nothomb exposes the dehumanization of television shows. Kidnapping people, recruiting torturers and filming this hell is the storyboard of this new born in Reality TV.
Concentration is the show that Nothomb centers her novel on, her two female protagonists representing the beautiful and the ugly, the good vs the evil. Pannonique “CKZ 114” a student, is the absolute beauty who despite the ultimate degradation of losing one’s identity and name, remains dignified.
Zedna, an out of work woman, is the tormenter. She is infatuated with Pannonique her opposite reflection.
A power struggle arises between the two, pushing on the limits bordering persecution. The ratings skyrocket. The fascination engulfs the repelled viewers pushing them to commit the ultimate act of savagery, that is to vote. Yet, Pannonique plays along gambling her own life.
The cruelty depicted in this novel reflects an idle society with no boundary relishing in the suffering of others.
Acide Sulfurique is also available in English.