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"Must-Gag TV"(Reality TV) from ctnow.com

Old 02-19-03, 10:40 PM
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"Must-Gag TV"(Reality TV) from ctnow.com

EDITORIALS


Must-Gag TV
February 19, 2003


Call us retro, but what's so entertaining about watching young women snack on sections of horse rectum or dig in to a dinner of dead rats?

We thought TV's new reality craze had hit rock bottom with "Fear Factor," in which young "adults" perform humiliating and hair-raising acts for money. It's impossible to watch even the promotional ads without gagging.

But the latest crop threatens to make "Survivor" look like Shakespeare. Fox's "Joe Millionaire" tops the charts in the Bankrupt Values category. In it, 20 women competed for the affections of a wealthy bachelor over several weeks. If their groveling weren't demeaning enough, there was a catch: He's really not a millionaire at all, but a $19,000-a-year construction worker. Gotcha, you gold diggers!

The finale was Monday. Each show, the guy gave away jewelry to the women he wanted to continue dating until the "winner" was the only one left standing. Gloria Steinem must be feeling very discouraged. All that effort for equality and these babes sell out for a string of pearls and a bogus bank account!

Naturally, the network's answer to ABC's "The Bachelor" was wildly popular. When it first aired, CNN reported that Fox reality chief Mike Darnell "conceived of something that just really tapped into the zeitgeist of American culture."

If so, we're in big trouble.

It's wasteful enough to stage a moronic gross-out that appeals to "Beavis and Butt-Head" graduates. It's disheartening enough to realize that people will go to great lengths to debase themselves for dollars. But since when did blatant deception become acceptable? Aren't relationships supposed to be based on trust?

Not all reality shows are completely wretched. MTV's "The Osbournes," a cautionary tale of drug culture survivors, has a certain train-wreck appeal for those not offended by the incessant use of the F-word. What you see is what you get. The Osbournes are clearly bound by affection - a plus in families these days - and it is unlikely that viewers would confuse them with ordinary folks.

Still, America's ravenous appetite for "unscripted" reality shows reflects a cultural emptiness in an era of overstimulation. As producers try to top each other with ever more outrageous scenarios, the boredom threshold keeps rising. Don't be shocked if televised executions are next.

http://www.ctnow.com/news/opinion/ed...s%2Deditorials
Aaron Amos is offline  

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