Open Letter To America


Can we have a moratorium on the commodification of human suffering and humiliation. I realize that putting an end to entertainment that relies on the train-wreck factor of millions of people watching a select few be beaten down and embarrassed on television is a much bigger and more impossible goal than any of us can hope to achieve, but can't we at least have a cease fire? Isn't there a point at which we can honestly admit to ourselves that putting a few people in a box and making them feel terrible for our own enjoyment isn't healthy, fair, or decent?


I don't get many TV channels, but the ones I do get are overrun with human life debasement programming like The Swan and Trading Spouses that are the kind of social experiments gone awry about which great distopian literature has been written. You know the one about the town that has to beat the little girl once a year to keep the rest of the townsfolk worry and problem free? Why do we let it happen with these shows that are just a set up to bring out the worst in people? Is it entertaining to watch a man have his entire body physically and artificially transformed into something else, to the extent that his own family hardly recognizes him? Watch even five minutes of The Swan and you see desperate young women jumping with glee "I'm going to be a Swan (TM) I'm going to be a SWAN" but then watch another five minutes where a panel of heartless 'experts' point out all the flaws and those women, and the ways in which they can be improved. Then watch until the end when the final 'reveal' pits sister against sister in a humiliating... ENOUGH! Turn it off, now.


Of course, it's not enough to just turn it off. Most people reading this probably don't have it on in the first place, and if you do, for shame! But how do we reach those co-workers and acquaintences who have a regular weekly schedule of Survivor, The Swan, My Boss is A Big Asswad, and Make Me Beautiful Because I Am Worthless? How do you turn people off from that garbage that more than reinforces stereotypes but also interferes with real lives? In a country that votes for 'values' and 'moral issues', it's the same middle America that voted for Bush that keeps program that bring out the lowest forms of human indecency on the air. Where is Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" when we need it?