|Reality TV seems to really suck
||[Apr. 9th, 2010|04:51 pm]
Written last night, posted today:
One of my friends posted a link to a site that I thought would be a parody of commercials and I went there to laugh at some funny videos. There were some. But then I got to Reality TV “Brat” Sues ABC for $100 Million. I started to watch it and thought that it must be a parody but I checked the Wife Swap Wikipedia page and apparently it isn't a joke. Since they had all of the episode, I watched it.
I . . . was horrified. I've never seen a whole show of anything that's reality TV, really. The reality TV craze hit after I'd abandoned TV. I have Netflix and the Internet, after all. And even if I did have broadcast TV, I wouldn't watch reality shows because most of them seem a little degrading. When I chance to read about them, it's seems very much that the people are selected on the grounds that putting them together will cause a train wreck. Well, bias confirmed. I was horrified. I don't think I've ever seen anything so degrading to the participants – and I include pornography I've seen.
For those of you who don't know, Wife Swap was a TV show where wives change positions with someone radically different from them for two weeks. In the first week, the wife has to follow the rules as laid down by their opposite number but in week two they can set down their own rules. In the link I posted, a radical feminist Quaker minister changes places with the mother of a beauty queen who is mind bogglingly pampered.
I guess the thing is . . . I sorta see where the beauty queen is coming from. She's right and she's wrong. She was humiliated, but her parents are as much to blame as the TV show. Oh, she's a terrible spoiled brat and the TV show has certainly ruined her school life and I am equally certain it made her an object of derision at her school (even amongst spoiled brats, this sort of thing would be noteworthy, like having a Christmas tree all year long because she gets a present every day). (The other family, who home school their children, will find it much easier to put this nonsense behind them.) So, yeah, she's a pretty terrible person but she is not only a person, but a child.
And, for crying out loud, how rotten is this for both families! I mean, if there were only adults involved I wouldn't have bothered watching it. Hey, if you want to prostitute your home life in front of others, well, that's your business. But these people brought their kids into it. Now, the feminist's family might have had real need for the 20K that was paid out for their participation; their house wasn't a palace by any stretch. Perhaps they just needed the dough. But the family with the beauty queen? Well, if they needed twenty grand, they would have found it easy to sell things to get it. People with as many material possessions as they have won't have a problem finding twenty grand. If they have money problems, twenty grand ain't gonna fix them. So these people put their child into this situation to be humiliated and it was humiliating.
Mind, it was humiliating for everyone, but this beauty queen child should not have been subjected to any of this – for people's amusement. I was thinking to myself, “How does this NOT qualify as child abuse?” To go into a child's life and expose their secrets and fears and dreams for other people's amusement?
I know I feel this way, in part, because I am a pretty private person. I would be horrified at the idea of someone coming into my life and recording it. I don't even like having my picture taken. I've never liked having my picture taken. So this whole concept of reality TV is in many ways abhorrent to me on a primal level. But this show ain't family home movies. I've seen bits and pieces of stuff like America's Funniest Home Videos and I kind of grasped why someone might do that. Some of the stuff that happened there was humiliating, sure, and sometimes it did happen to young children – but the clips were almost always, like, a minute or so, usually just some pratfall where no one was hurt or whatever, and while I'd never do anything like that myself I could see how someone would, even if their child was involved. But the elaborate humiliation that everyone in this show suffered! Of course, it was worse with the children. The beauty queen's mother openly just shamed one of the feminist mom's children, basically calling her ugly and weird (which was furthermore strange because the child is actually, frankly, beautiful), talking about how no one will ever want to be around her because she doesn't “sparkle” (no kidding). I couldn't imagine their anger, pain and frustration at being forced to spend two weeks with that woman. I couldn't imagine why someone would allow their child to be treated that way outside of real financial need (people have done worse things to kids for money). And both sides just ended up yelling at each other all the time. Both sides made the children cry on TV, for millions of people to see. For entertainment.
The beauty queen's family came off looking . . . horrible. The father was verbally abusive (“you feminist pig”) and physically intimidating to their guest. Their child is functionally illiterate at fifteen years of age (can't spell "America" or read the word "crutches"), incapable of doing the simplest of physical tasks and I don't even want to imagine what a psychological mess she is. Her mother was going on and on about how the feminist's children won't find people but . . . can she seriously imagine that so spoiled a child will be able to have a functioning, mature relationship with another human being? Her parents do her homework, for crying out loud! And while I am no fan of the public education system in the US, that's basically teaching your child that lying and cheating are okay (but see below about that; they live that lifestyle, apparently). I mean, her parents seem to make good money, they own their own business and, at a glance, they're financially well-off. But what happens when their little girl leaves the nest? She doesn't know how to do housework for crying out loud, she has no educational future, she has no business future, it's like her only resource is her attractiveness. And she's not that pretty (though she might be prettier than I think because the way she's made up horrifies me, so maybe I'm not the person to judge that).
And the beauty queen's family seemed to be constantly judging the attractiveness of the feminist's family, which was weird because . . . the feminist's family was, as a group, more attractive. Very weird. Tho' there were plenty of tense moments there, too, about the beauty queen's mom wanting to sexualize the feminist's young daughter in a beauty pageant caused some stirs, shall we say.
At the end of it, I felt emotionally drained. I've written all of this out because, y'know, I wanted to get it out of my system, to purge it, calm down. But, wow. I know this was on that site because it was particularly bad, but . . . wow.
(I know that there is some artifice to all of this, too. The show admits asking people to do things over, and the beauty queen alleged that it was scripted. Even watching through the one show, it was pretty clear that the producers would intervene. People would storm out and run away but then change their minds . . . which happened often enough that it's easy to believe the people storming off was, ahem, encouraged or the people returning was encouraged. The beauty queen's lawsuit alleges it was scripted, might I add, which I do not changes the degrading nature of the show.)
I did some checking around and it appears that the beauty queen, Alicia Guastaferro, is suing the TV show for all kinds of emotional damages and such, without her parents involvement because . . . her parents have pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges. The elder Guastaferros are, apparently, so broke they can't pay their lawyers and are both quite possibly facing prison time. Well. I suspect that Alicia isn't getting a present a day anymore and this is a fairly cynical move to get some money, which will probably work because they'll settle out of court (though if the Guastaferros can't pay their lawyers it's unlikely that they'll pay for their spoiled daughter's lawyers, the show might well decide to go to court and figure the lawyers will give it up – the case will take five to six years and that's a long time not to get paid and I'm sure Disney can keep up the legal pressure . . . I mean, who's dumb enough to sue the Mouse?). Though I doubt that Alicia has any money skills and even if she won all hundred mil she'd blow it by the time she was thirty.
So, I revise my opinion of the beauty queen's family. They probably were in it for the money. When I saw the show, I was going, “I didn't know there was that much money in tinting automobile glass”. But since I know nothing about the business, maybe it's real profitable. The show just showed them with a big house and their own business and them bragging about spending $100,000 a year on their daughter's clothes. Now they're in court for money laundering, not paying taxes, and things of this nature, with a public defender because they can't afford a lawyer. When the show was being filmed, they Guastaferros were pulling in about $400,000 a year illegally. So perhaps this was all about the money. Twenty grand is a couple of months of dresses for their prom queen, right? Greed knows few limitations. They were corrupt and couldn't even hold on to their ill-gotten booty and there's scant chance that their daughter will show any greater morality or any more wisdom with money. And explains why they were so comfortable doing their daughter's homework - when you're in a telemarketing scam, what's cheating at schoolwork?
So, as it turns out, the crash has already happened. I sorta wonder what the feminist's family thinks of all this whackiness . . . but that's buying into the whole ugly pathology of these kinds of TV shows, isn't it? I admit, it can be powerful TV. But heroin can be a powerful entertainment experience and I don't suggest that people shoot up, either.