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Whoa, Nelly!

FYI, I'm a redhead again.  I decided it was time.  It's a bit of a streaky red right now, but it will even out over time.

In other words, I'm a tabby cat again.  Lenny and Hobbes should be pleased.

But that's not why I'm writing today; I'm writing because I'm concerned for all y'all's television viewing.  That stuff will rot your teeth.

Right now, not content with merely showing everyone how young lower middle class New Jersey teenagers/twentysomethings live when they're given unlimited money, rent-free digs, and cameras on them 24/7 (hint:  Not at all like they would in the real world), some channels that think they're better than that (*cough*lies*cough) have decided to showcase people with serious mental illness, under the guise of "education", but really so that we can stare at the people like they're freaks at a carny sideshow.

Yes, VH1, I'm looking at you.  And A&E.  And Bravo.  Hoarders, Hoarding:  Buried Alive, and VH1's contribution to the mess, The OCD Project, where you don't just stare at the mess, you watch some asshole who should never be allowed near anyone with mental illness (or anyone else for that matter) tell people with severe OCD that they just have to "stop".  They get punished if they don't. It's fun watching people in agony, isn't it!  

Television, you weren't supposed to take Bruce Springsteen's "57 Channels and Nothing On" as advice.  Assholes.

Speaking of asses, Animal Planet is now trying to get in on the action, with Confessions:  Animal Hoarding, where people with a compulsion to collect more and more animals will be paraded before you, so you can squeal with disgust at the animal pee and poo they have everywhere, and feel better about the fact that sometimes you let Fluffy's litter box go uncleaned for a week, or that you named the new puppy "Puddles" because you can't be bothered to house-train him properly.

Basically, these shows are an affirmation of the status quo.  "Normal people don't do this", you can tell yourself reassuringly, totally ignoring the fact that no-one is normal, if you define "normal" as "Ozzie and Harriet" (and most people do, albeit subconsciously).  Hell, Ozzie and Harriet weren't normal.  Considering that statistics say that one in four adults in the US has some form of diagnosable mental illness, I'd say that mental illness is pretty normal.

But enough of the serious!  I was watching the previews for Confessions:  Animal Hoarding, and I realized how one of the sleazier networks, say... Fox, could get in on some of that tasty, tasty sideshow action.  I expect a mention in the credits and some money from this, because remember, you heard it here first.

"From the network that brought you Who's Your Daddy? and Survivor: Totes Racist, Fox is proud to present its newest reality show, Confessions:  Animal Humpers!  It's all the excitement of Wife Swap, combined with the severe discomfort of watching the more delusional auditions on American Idol

"In the premiere episode, watch Frank, a husband to Betty and father of three kids, confess to his family that he's been having an affair with the family horse for the past ten years!  See his wife's despair and disgust!  Drool over the horror!  Watch the kids cry in endless action replays!

"Frank:  You see, it's been such a burden all these years.  I'm really glad it's out in the open.
Betty:  You've been humping a horse?!  And you decided to tell me this on national TV?!
Frank:  Betty, you're being really judgemental about this.  I'm coming clean about my affair, and I think I should get credit for that.
Betty:  A horse?!!!
Horse:  neighs

"You'll be drawn into the drama, as the kids deal with teasing at school, Betty packs up and leaves home, and Frank gets arrested for bestiality, which is still illegal in 49 states!

"Betty:  Damn.  I thought he was into his secretary, but noooooo.  He's gotta be special, and fall in love with a freaking horse. (to camera) And why are you still following me around?  Shouldn't you be interviewing the horse?

"Horse:  whinnies

"It's everything you ever expected from Fox, the network that takes Teabaggers seriously!  The network that employs blatant racists!  The network that has absolutely no sense of decency!  Coming this fall!  Confessions:  Animal Humpers!  Don't miss it!!!!!!!!!"

Fox: The network that scrapes the bottom of the barrel for the stinkiest sludge you can imagine.




( 27 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Jul. 27th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Lennie sez "Us ginger kitties rool! Yay!"
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Jul. 27th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Now please pass the brain bleach.
Jul. 27th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Of course, there is always Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?. A *very* strange play.
Jul. 27th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)

You have a wonderful sense of humor!
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Hyperbole isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think it makes a point. :)
Jul. 27th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
this: "Television, you weren't supposed to take Bruce Springsteen's "57 Channels and Nothing On" as advice" almost made me snort my soup out of my nose!!

Also - you think you are being sarcastic with this show idea... but reality producers probably troll the internet just looking for gems like this idea. Someone will be pitching it next week.
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Sad, isn't it? I mean, who thought the real show I linked above, about finding someone's real father, game-show style, would have had at least one person saying "no, I don't think this is a good idea".

At least the viewing public rebelled for that one. I'm deeply disappointed that VH1 is delving into this trash with frankly, damaging shows that put people with real mental illness in very harmful situations. I love their "I love the..." shows (and, of course, the rare times they actually play music), but I switch off immediately when they start pretending they're doing anything but exploiting people for money.
Jul. 27th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
Considering how rarely I watch TV, it's funny I've had to rise to it's defense twice in the last week.

When people say they dislike TV, it's sort of like disliking books based on Mein Kampf and a few penny dreadfuls. Sturgeon's Revelation is in force here, but that should remind us to us a little more discretion with the on/off and channel controls, not pitch the thing out the window. The biggest problem is that with all the channels going all the time, the 90% is now a massive pile of crud.

I can understand ditching the cable for cost considerations - I've done that for a while as I'm just not home often enough to justify the cost. I may reconsider that upon my return as my usual place to hang out and watch quality TV is relocating to Chicago and I may be on my own.

Jul. 28th, 2010 03:11 pm (UTC)
I pay for cable willingly for a few shows on commercial television, but mostly for PBS. Heck I don't even begrudge the junk shows, since they still help pay (through liscensing fees) for PBS anyway. That said, I sometimes wish they would add Fiction/Non-fiction to the ratings system, and then apply it as needed to 'news' programming in particular.
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)

Jul. 28th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
And I like TV - it's worth sometimes, though, pointing out quite how bad it can be. On the one hand, you have the sideshow of suffering[tm], on the other, really interesting and educational shows that are great - I love speculative science, and I have a real soft spot for explosions (mythbusters, etc.).

Jul. 27th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
Mwah ha ha ha! This is great - and soooo true.
Jul. 27th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Yay for redheads! I'm attempting to go red, but the salon I am going to isn't cooperating! LOL Long story.

As to the TV programs, yeah, I watched something on hoarding a while ago; and the promos for the Animal Planet show were just sad. This is more exploitative than helpful.

Oh, have you seen the promos for the Jillian Michaels' show? She acts like a DI to force people to get in shape and 'eat right'...yea, ok, how about NO. heh.
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
Jillian Michaels is frightening - she's also hawking her own line of "diet" stuff - I think I wrote about it a month or two ago.

I watched the A&E show for a bit, because in the beginning, it actually did seem to be more about making sure the family knew that hoarding is a real illness, not simply the affected person being "difficult", but it slowly became more about judging and pointing at the icky people, and I got angry. When I find myself screaming the obvious at the TV, I have to stop watching.

I don't even want to attempt to try the Animal Planet one - I get all the animal hoarders I can take on "Animal Cops", and there, at least, the majority of the officers understand that hoarding is a compulsion (related to OCD), and treat the hoarders with respect, and follow up on them a lot of the time to make sure that HHS or APS is working with them.
Jul. 27th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
I have always thought those shows were extremely exploitative and reprehensible. I still don't understand why so many otherwise rational people will defend them--and watch them--with a clear conscience.
Jul. 28th, 2010 12:39 am (UTC)
wow. just wow.

You've taken a thoughtful topic on having proper disgust at the exploitation of people who need help and turned it into a tirade against "teabaggers" and fox viewers. I'm quite sure that Tea Partiers and Fox viewers would be just as disgusted by the fake show you present.

I enjoy reading your blog for the costume content, and because you're a vigilant voice when it comes to our society's issues with women and the rape culture. I think you've indulged yourself a little in the same kind of generalizations you usually strive to expose.
Jul. 28th, 2010 09:48 am (UTC)
I'm sorry you feel the need to demand that everything I write be serious social commentary. Perhaps in future, you'd be happier if you skipped the posts tagged "humour".
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC)
I will PM you.
Jul. 29th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
Hobbes mrrphs approvingly at the increase to the tabby cat voting block.
Jul. 29th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
I actually have found Hoarders to be useful in giving me some insights into my own and family members' behaviors.

They use seemingly decent professionals who care what happens, their whole premise is to assist people who have already sunk to the dire emergency level of facing condemnation of property, eviction, or loss of children/partners/pets.
Someone needs to help these people, and since the "social services" we have now are usually the very agencies who are threatening to further dissolve their already chaotic lives because they are failing to conform to normative standards, rather than helping, I am actually sort of glad that someone is helping, even if it is just so that they can parade them on tv for the prurient interest of the masses.
I think it's probably just as othering to say "those people are mentally ill so you shouldn't talk about them" as to say "those people are crazy/dirty, aren't they scary/hilarious/______ (insert othering adjective)/aren't you glad you're not them". That's just how it feels to me. YMMV
It has been good for me to get these insights into my own inability to get rid of stuff at no cost, since participation in the mental "health" system is so costly, both financially and socially and with auto-immune disease and "obesity" already on my plate, I really cannot afford to loose what little credibility I still have as a patient with health care professionals by admitting that I have had some of these problems with attachment to objects and irrational accumulations of objects.
And it's certainly no help to describe the abject squalor I was raised in to any professional, since confiding about abuse or neglect gets you an automatic down score in the amount of credibility you have as a self reporter of your own condition, since it makes you, you know, "attention seeking"....

But I do agree with you, actually, it is at the end of the day just more sensationalism and it's difficult to say if the help it gives a few of us outweighs the manner in which it feeds the callous culture of exploitation.
It would be nice to think it removes at least some of the stigma some of the time, since the worst part of it all is probably the shame of being incapable of having a conventionally arranged dwelling and not being able to understand why.
Jul. 29th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
Hoarders is the only one I could watch for any length of time for exactly that reason. They appeared to care, and they got professionals in who understood that hoarding isn't just a "quirk".

Believe me, when I'm being serious, I understand all too well the limitations of a system that is overburdened, understaffed and funded, and constantly at risk from politicians thinking that hurting the poorest members of society is worth another tax cut for the rich. Anything at all that helps with the understanding of mental illness is good.

But all the others are simply "look at the crazy people!" bullshit.
Jul. 29th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC)
LJ just ate my long reply. I agree with you. :)

ETA: And deeply sympathize.

Edited at 2010-07-29 12:04 pm (UTC)
Jul. 30th, 2010 01:41 am (UTC)
Thank you, your journal really helps, with many things, it's great to feel like I'm not all alone here thinking the kind of things I think. ^.^
I also thought after I had time to think about what I wrote...
I wonder if sensationalizing these things often perpetuates the idea in people's minds (both lay people and unfortunately many health care professionals) that these behaviors are simply attention-seeking behaviors and thus not worth expending any effort on understanding or assisting? Given the current intellectual climate where many people simply choose not to "believe in" science, that seems likely to me.
Jul. 30th, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
I think you are right - the right wing thinking of "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps", combined with the "if bad things happen to you it's because you're drawing negative energy to yourself" assholery results in a toxic stew of victim-blaming and what is nicely called "compassion fatigue", and more truthfully described as "not giving a damn as long as I get mine".

But there are people who understand, and there are people who get it. The network of sites I link to in my links list, especially Shakesville, are progressive, and like to call that shit out when they see it. Shakesville is also a safe space, with strong moderators keeping out hurtful, ableist, and all other -ist language, so it's a great place to read.
Jul. 29th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
"Reality" TV makes me think of the final days of Rome. When public humiliation become spectacle....

Fox to me has always been the "wow, this is scary trash" coupled with "how in the world did the people who put the other stuff up let this through" station. Firefox, after all did start on Fox (though it didn't stay long enough!).
Jul. 30th, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
It's sometimes like Fox has two brains - the "Family Guy" side, and then the "Firefly" side. It's a puzzlement. :)
( 27 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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