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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

Bread and circuses

Posted Friday, January 25, 2008, at 9:03 AM

I started to post a comment after Sadie Fowler's blog post about the new Fox game show "The Moment of Truth," in which people are hooked up to a lie detector and asked potentially-devastating questions about things like adultery. But I decided to just start a new thread here.

Maybe I'm just too old, but I'm repulsed by the whole genre of people allowing their personal situations to be exploited and exposed for public entertainment -- whether it's this lie detector show, or the nanny and wife-swap shows, the dating shows, or the daytime talk shows. I don't guess I'm the one to be giving relationship advice, but does anyone really think that the place to meet your true love is on some phony, manipulative TV competition? I'm sure the contestants don't. They're not looking for true love; they're looking to be on television, regardless of what platitudes they spout off for the benefit of the cameras.

How sick is our society when the allure of being on TV, coupled in some (but not all) cases with a cash prize, is enough to allow you or your family to be humiliated for public entertainment?

The banner of "reality" television is broad and all-encompassing. The term is probably a misnomer; crafty editors and producers can shape "reality" into a compelling storyline that has little relationship to what actually transpired between the participants.

There are "reality" shows that are positive, non-exploitative and fun to watch -- two that spring to my mind are "Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe" and "Ace of Cakes." There are many others, I know, and I'm sure you have your favorites.

But the mean-spirited reality shows -- the ones that thrive on embarassment or the voyeuristic pleasure of watching what is supposed to be someone's private life -- are junk, pure and simple, and if you watch them, you're encouraging the TV people to make more of them.

I am amazed at some of the people who watch this trash. Whether it's reflecting who we have become or whether it's transforming us into something else, it can't be good.


Comments
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John - Thank you. I am so tired of these shows that have absolutely no redeeming qualities. It has gotten to the point where I can't even stand to watch commercials because they always have ads for these shows. And they always choose the spots based on the worst parts of the shows. It's like Jerry Springer has taken over producing prime time programming. Unfortunately, with the writers' strike, it's only going to get worse.

-- Posted by Thom on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 9:33 AM

John,

I have to agree about Dirty Jobs...I love that show. I have never watched Ace of Cakes.

I know lots of people enjoy reality shows, but I will be so happy, when the reality show fad is over. I don't care anything for the Bachelor/Bachelorette series, Survivor or any of the other shows that lots of folks will not miss. Oh I thought of another reality show that I like, which also involves Mike Rowe, as the narrator. The Deadliest Catch...almost makes me want to go to Alaska and sign up as a deckhand on a crab boat. NOT!

William

-- Posted by HorseGentler on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 9:37 AM

"Ace of Cakes" is on the Food Network. It's about a larger-than-life character named Duff Goldman and his employees in Baltimore. They make these incredible, realistic-looking representational cakes -- last night, for example, they made an intricately-detailed display (only parts of which were edible, in this case) of Hogwarts for Warner Bros. for the premiere party of one of the "Harry Potter" movies.

It probably sounds dull, from my description, but once you get to know the characters -- especially Duff, his soft-spoken associate Geof and their office manager Mary Alice, who has to be sort of an island of sanity amid the creative types -- it's a real hoot. It's also a really positive, upbeat show about solving challenges and about a man who made himself a success through over-the-top customer service and who really seems to care about his employees.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 9:54 AM

Well, we only have the stations that come from the antenna. Neither of us watch much more than the news and a ballgame. (Did you see Miss. St beat Alabama?!) I dropped American Idol because it made me sad to see people exploited. I used to like Survivor, but it got trashy. I loved Rock Star with INXS. I really like MythBusters and we watch it in my class sometimes if it goes along with the lesson.

I really enjoy a good book rather than TV and I'm outside in the summer too much to turn the thing on.

Just a note for thought...I used to give extra credit to students whose parents would send me a note saying their student didn't watch TV or play video games for the weekend one weekend out of a 6 weeks. I quit because it was the same kids over and over and they were the ones making A's anyway.

-- Posted by Jacks4me on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 10:26 AM

"Mythbusters" is another great one -- in fact, I read a news story some months back where some scientists applauded it for helping teach people about the scientific method! The participants talk about how they're going to set up each myth-busting test, what outside factors they need to account for, use of a control group, and so on. I know that sounds silly for a show that thrives on blowing things up, but it actually makes some sense.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 10:47 AM

Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe is a great show . . . makes you appreciate those jobs and the people who do them.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 11:01 AM

I actually enjoyed American Inventors when it was on. I don't know if it got canceled or just off for the season but I use to watch it..some of those people had some pretty darn good ideas and the judges were not harsh with them about their ideas.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 11:37 AM

I recall, Mr. Carney, awhile back that you wanted a certain blogger to not blog about war heroes because it took away from topics about the community....what exactly does this or a story on American Idol or a story on your trip to Cali. have to do with community interests? I would much rather read about the brave men than some stupid reality show.

-- Posted by Disturbia on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 8:32 PM

That's not exactly what the disagreement was about. It's water under the bridge now. It had nothing to do with the content of the posts; it was about original content versus cut-and-paste content. All of our bloggers, all along, have blogged about a variety of topics, both local and national, and that's fine. I've never discouraged anyone from blogging about a particular topic of interest -- as long as its their own content. And even in the case you mention, I gave the blogger the option of alternating original posts with cut-and-paste posts, which he declined, probably because he was annoyed with me at the time. He's written a number of good, original posts since that time.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 9:08 PM

The point of blogs shouldn't be whether it's someone's patented information, it should be to provoke thoughts, opinions, and debate... Many of these patented blogs have absolutely no responses and envoke no thought. So which is better, someone "cutting and pasting" a few articles mentioning very honorable people, or "original thought" that gets no responses...

I ask, objectively not sarcastically or in a negative way. I just don't understand why all these rules and regulations pop up months after the blogs are established.

But anyways... weren't a HUGE majority of Brian Mosely's blogs "cut and paste" stories from other areas, that had no importance to Bedford County?

-- Posted by nascarfanatic on Sat, Jan 26, 2008, at 5:22 PM

I certainly grant your point in regard to the blogosphere in general, nascarfanatic. But we have a limited number of blogging slots open here, and our intent is that they be used for original, locally-generated content. "Original content" can include things like commenting on a link or on some external material -- like Thom Williamson posting the amendments to the constitution and then commenting on them or Michael Bell doing the same to the Ten Commandments.

We're providing a ready-made audience for the people who blog here, and in return we get to set the ground rules. There are plenty of other places that people can go to start their own blogs with no such rules.

I'm not sure what the slap at Brian is supposed to mean.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Sat, Jan 26, 2008, at 6:14 PM

Dirty Jobs, totally cool show. They did an episode where Mike Rowe was at a college taking toilets and stuff out. The college was Upsala College, located in East Orange NJ. When the show opened, Mike Rowe was standing by an open window in the dorms talking about what his job was at the college. That window was MY dorm room wondow!!! It really sadden me to see what has become of my college days, but at least I can say I had someone famous in my room!!!! LOL

-- Posted by JerseyGirl on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 4:26 PM

I think the reality shows are disgusting myself some things should remain personal.

-- Posted by michaelbell on Mon, Feb 11, 2008, at 5:28 PM


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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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