Flirting With Disaster

My sister and her friend have left, and my television is my own again. No more "Rock of Love" or "Tool Academy." No more Lifetime movies. I'll miss her and her friend, but their taste in television left me a little dumber.

I don't understand shows like "Rock of Love" and "Tool Academy." I don't see the cheap appeal. Maybe it makes people feel better about themselves. Maybe it gives breast implant women something to aspire to ("I don't have to strip no more!"). Maybe it takes guys with manga hair and turns them into something their psychologists can be proud of. I just don't have it figured out. How, in a world where books exist, can these shows be on the air? Who signs off on this sort of shit?

If I had to do a reality show, this is what it would be. I'd call it "Dead Dumb Motherfuckers." Every week we'd read an e-mail on the air from some lucky viewer who had an experience with someone they thought was so dumb they shouldn't be allowed to share our precious space. We'd give the offender a chance to respond and let the audience vote on whether or not they should live. On the next show we'd post the results. Thumbs up, and the idiot gets to go home and fuck his equally dumb wife or girlfriend. Thumbs down, and it's execution samurai style. I can see it being a hit with the crowd that thinks "Survivor" doesn't live up to its name. After all, we'd boast the ultimate voting off.

That will never happen, though. We like to pretend that we, as a society, are above this sort of thing. The truth of the matter is that we are below it. We only pretend to have such lofty ideals. We'd say we wouldn't watch such a show, but you all know damn well we would, and it would be a hit. Social critics would lament the destruction of culture until they were blue in the face, but it wouldn't matter. When you deal with groups, you get group think, and group think is not a product of intelligence. It is the product of lowest common denominator, blood lust, and voyeurism.

I won't be watching those shows now that my guests aren't here, but I know some of you will be. Some of my friends do. I can't figure it out, and I give them all kinds of shit for it. But what really intrigues me is where do they draw the line? What is unacceptable? I'd be curious to find out, but I don't think we've reached that point yet.

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