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Have “Survivor” type TV competitions gone to far?

Big Brother
The Weakest Link
The Amazing Race
Fear Factor
Temptation Island

What do all these shows have in common? They glorify the negative in our society. By waving a carrot of a large money settlement, the programs manipulate the contestants to promote their selfishness and greed.  And by watching these shows and becoming intimately involved with the characters, we, too, buy into their covet ness. For example:

  • Big Brother, groups vie to win by creating alliances to defeat and eliminate their roommates

  • The Weakest Link hostess verbally puts down the show’s contestants and then asks them to choose who should be dumped from the show

  • The Amazing Race, Lost and Fear Factor make its contestants take dangerous and possibly life threatening chances using the lure of money

  • Temptation Island promoted the down-fall of romantic relationships as entertainment. 

Maybe, it’s time for more uplifting programming. So might I offer these possible ideas for the future. 

      Brother Can You Spare a Dime:  Teams of strangers are sent into the street to beg for money to help the poor. Those who collect the most money will receive a cash prize. The cash prize will be donated to the contestant’s favorite charity. 

      Share My Crib:  Strangers are given the task of adopting a needy family and helping them find employment, and a place to live. Contestants who do the best job in promoting their family will win a prize. The contestants are given the option of keeping the money or giving it to their host family as a down payment on a better life. 

       Bicycling for Bucks: Teams of employees chosen from large corporations race across the country on bicycles. In every town, the contestants have to perform good deeds before getting back on their bikes (peeling potatoes for a homeless shelter or washing a load of clothes owned by a homeless person). The winners will be given points for their best time on the road and their good deeds performed.  The winning team will present a check to their favorite charity. 

    Get the idea.  I’m not a TV programmer but these ideas could be turned into some decent uplifting shows. 

    In closing, I’d like to leave you with a story I saw in a foreign animated cartoon. 

A man is walking down the road. He comes upon a large hole and falls in.  Cursing, he climbs out of the hole but stops when he hears someone coming. Hiding behind a tree, he watches as another traveler makes the same mistake and falls into the hole. The first traveler silently laughs at the man’s misfortune. Suddenly, the second traveler hears someone coming down the road. Like the first traveler he too decides to hide behind the tree. As the second man confronts the first man hiding, he is both amazed and angered, but suddenly the two men put their feelings aside and joyfully wait behind the tree to view the misfortune to come.  Into view comes the third traveler. Like the first and second traveler he falls into the hole. But unlike the first and second traveler, the third man climbs out of the hole, finds a large stone and fills the hole. As he walks away, the first and second man look puzzled and saddened that their fun had been interrupted by the man’s solution to the problem.

The moral: We can make fun of our neighbor and use his misfortune as a source of entertainment or we can act to prevent misfortune so that it will not hurt anyone in the future. What will you choose? 

                                  -- Jerome A. Holst, Webmaster 

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