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Stay tuned: some reality shows to improve America

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2004-06-14


I’m convinced reality television is contributing to the “white trashification” of America.

The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Average, Temptation Island and other shows of their ilk celebrate the goals of America’s youth: anonymous sex, quick money and 15 minutes of fame. There’s something seriously wrong with these people that they would willingly go on a television show to find love, or test it. Well, maybe not. Why not humiliate yourself for a chance at $1 million? Lord knows, I’ve humiliated myself for free on several occasions.

Of the reality shows that focus on relationships, the only one I get a kick out of is Blind Date. I like it because it truly shows why dating is awful, and mocks the contestants mercilessly. The other night, one girl made her date take off his shirt and bark like a dog when she walked away. I felt really sorry for the guy. But then again, why would he allow her to do such a humiliating thing? Is his self-esteem that low? Is he really that desperate? Does he need to get laid that badly? The answer to all three questions, of course, is a
resounding “yes.”

Then there’s Dr. Phil. A Family Divided, featuring Marty, who seemingly has a heart of stone and a face to match; Erin, his stressed-out wife; Alex who looked for love in all the wrong places and is now a teenage mom; and Katherine, who’s fed up with it all and rightly so, is white trash at its most compelling. It’s like an upscale version of Jerry Springer, but without the boob flashing.

And there’s another show, The Ultimate Love Test, which, if I understand correctly, has couples facing their biggest relationship problems on air. According to the website, one partner from each couple gets to whoop it up at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and will meet the person (or people) who “represent(s) everything they feel is lacking in their current partner.” These shows that manufacture instant relationships, manipulate people’s feelings, pit strangers against each other for money and actually try to break up reasonably happy couples count as emotional pornography. In a way, I can understand the appeal. Instead
of envying some sitcom character because he or she lives better than you ever will, smug marrieds can watch Blind Date and similar shows and thank their lucky stars they’ll never have to go through THAT again. (Well, until they get divorced.)

And as long as reality television exists, why not push it to its very limit of bad taste? Penitentiary Island would put convicts on a deserted island to survive without cells, regular meals, prison guards, any hope of parole and Internet access. Survival of the fittest. Isolated hidden cameras would catch the action.

Texas Execution Idol would have the nation’s viewing audience vote on how and which convicts are killed. Each week, an inmate is chosen, and is executed by whatever method America chooses, and it is shown on live television.

Who Needs a Vasectomy? rounds up child support dodgers at random. Whoever has the most kids at the time of the round up gets snipped. Those who dodge the knife get put back into the pool for another chance on a weekly basis.

Over the top? Sure. But if Hollywood reads this and steals any of my ideas — well I’m gonna want more than 10 percent, that’s for sure.

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