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