Apr 262004
Authors: Stacey Schneider

Last week, there were outcries that reached almost scandalous

proportions as a presidential press conference bumped “American

Idol” from its Wednesday night spot. Apparently the fate of some

low-grade karaoke singers is of more concern than the words of the

nation’s leader. A new epidemic of reality television junkies has

hit the streets, and the products used to fuel these needs will

rise to ridiculous proportions in the near future.

It is obvious that there is something wrong with television when

people are signing up to one day look like Britney Spears on MTV’s

“I Want a Celebrity Face.” Appearance-related television shows are

storming the charts, causing people to undermine their true beauty

and trade it in for hunks of plastic. If shows like “The Swan”

don’t concern you, there is a whole possibility of upcoming shows

that just might make you consider the moral implications and

ridiculous proportions of reality television.

According to an article found in The Boston Globe, CBS has plans

for creating a reality show that attempts to recover abducted

children. Entitled “Recovery,” the show takes “viewers along on an

emotional and life-changing ride, from the abduction to the search

in all its intensity to the reunion of child and parents.” The show

will involve former law enforcement and military personnel as they

attempt to find these missing children.

Whoever decided that this would be a good idea for a television

show should consider serious psychological evaluations. This is a

clear case of exploitation, using children in horrible situations

to gain market share and profits. Exploitation of children and the

horrors they endure are never entertainment, and should not be

broadcast in the company of “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “CSI:

Miami,” or ever for that matter. The results of such a television

show go far beyond the obvious moral implications. Critics of

“Recovery” fear that the show will undermine the necessity for

legal authorities to be involved in child abduction cases. In

addition, there is a fear that kidnappers may try to use the show

as a publicity outlet, attempting to outsmart the television


Another equally disturbing reality show possibility can be found

in the United States Patent & Trademark Office. An application

created in July of 2002 shows a premise that would pit couples

against each other in order to compete for the ultimate prize – a

baby! This reality show would allow viewers to observe the couples

and vote for the best parents to receive custody of a child. While

no station has taken claim to this, it is just foretelling of the

absurd and ridiculous television shows to come. Apparently, even

something as sacred and emotional as adoption can be molded into a

game and sold off for profit.

As the shows continue to worsen, the question becomes “Is there

an end to reality television?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. As

long as viewers have a perverse desire to peer into the misfortunes

of others, reality television will continue to prosper. With this

question answered, the next question is “Where will the line be

drawn?” And to this there is no answer. With each “shocking” new

idea (child abductions for entertainment?), the public becomes

desensitized and the bar is raised on the shock factor. As

broadcasters continue to strive to be the best in their respective

markets, who knows the boundaries they will cross along the way.

Apparently exploiting children, a red flag for most people, has not

concerned CBS, and thus the moral boundary war continues.

The only way to stop such a phenomenon is to turn off the

television and stop watching. However, reality TV has become an

addiction in American society, and taking away programming is like

taking away morning coffee from a Fortune 500 CEO -not a good idea.

Consider this article as a warning of what’s to come, and when the

adoption game show comes on television, don’t watch. Given the

option, I would rather see you turn back to American Idol.

Stacey is a senior studying marketing. Her column runs every

other Tuesday.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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