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VH1 News Presents: Reality Secrets RevealedPage 4
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Shows like American Idol have far more losers than they have winners. Brian Dunkleman, co-host of American Idol 1, says people don’t tune in to see who wins as much as to see who will be voted out that night. Gloria Alred, famed attorney, chimes in that she calls these types of shows “humilitainment” and explains that means “humiliating entertainment.” Good thing she explains that, without the exposition the sheer obviousness of it might not have slapped me in the face. Before filming begins on these shows, the hopefuls sign contracts agreeing to be humiliated. Brian Dunkleman was startled when one kid, ripped by Simon, came off stage and he tried to cushion the blow by telling the guy that at least Paula liked him. They yelled cut and he was chastised for not mentioning what Simon said. Brian recounts a conversation with the producer: “Let me get this straight. If these kids come back here feeling like sh*t, I’m supposed to continue to make them feel like sh*t? And his answer was you’re Godd**n f**king right.”
Irene McGee feels she was manipulated into fighting with castmate Steven. This is accompanied by footage of them going at it in various verbal ripostes... ending in the infamous slap. She doesn’t understand why the cameramen kept filming when she was slapped. She doesn’t know many normal young men who would allow her to be stricken without intervening. I see her point in a way, but he slapped her then shut the car door and walked away. It isn’t as if there was an ongoing assault and they did nothing. By the time anyone could have intervened it was over, so is she upset they didn’t go after him and exact revenge for her? I don’t know, I’d be hurt if someone watched someone slap me and did nothing, so I do see her point. I also see the point of the men who did nothing as it’s their job to document this and not intervene. Matt Kunitz says that she signed on to be on television and show the good, bad, and the ugly and the ugly was part of her storyline.
Hidden camera shows humiliate now, ask questions (and permission) later. Phillip Zelnick didn’t sign up for any reality show, so he has no personal culpability for what happened to him at the hands of Candid Camera. He was traveling through an Arizona airport and went through what he thought was a security checkpoint. He was told to get on the conveyor belt himself and pass through the x-ray machine lying down. He laughed and asked where the candid camera was, and was told by Peter Lunt (host of the show) that joking about security in an airport won’t be tolerated and at that point Phillip took this seriously. He went through the machine lying prone, face down, twice – the second time injured his leg. That was when he was let in on the joke. He says his leg has healed but the shame continues. This was the first time the footage was aired as he didn’t sign the release. Not only did he not sign the release but he sued Pax, the show’s producers, and the airport and received $300,000 in punitive damages. Good for him. I like reality shows as much as the next person, goofing on people so doggedly courting fame can be high entertainment when done well… but this guy was just traveling through an airport living his life, minding his own business, and was ambushed by a bad joke. If the people over at Candid Camera read this, why don’t you leave this kinda thing to Tom Green reruns and just sit down?
The Sci-Fi Network camera-ambush show Scare Tactics went looking for a victim who would not only believe they were being attacked by aliens but then chill out afterwards and sign the release. How many people like that can there be out there? What they found was Kara Blanc, who sued them because she genuinely believed her life was in danger and after the stunt had to be hospitalized for severe emotional distress. Travis Draft, Scare Tactics, who first found his calling annoying people back in the mid-‘90s during his days with MTV’s Buzzkill, feels that what he’s doing is “punk rock theatre.” He is bringing theatre to the marks without a stage. I think there is a reason theatres have stages. So if you want to see a dinner theatre production starring Burt Reynolds and Jamie Farr you can go enjoy their fine acting over some steak and crab legs and they don’t come to your house as you’re reheating lasagna in your pajamas and run lines from A Streetcar Named Desire.
Gloria Alred checks in about how these shows victimize people and it’s Russian roulette for emotions. Totally unrelated trivia, but she is the mother of Court TV’s Lisa Bloom and Lisa is fabulous. I know, apropos of nothing, just thought I would share.
For those of you scoffing at the aforementioned lawsuits, thinking the victims should just suck it up, get a sense of humor, and deal, this is a reminder that they aren’t all trivial or based on principal alone. Darin Goka was a contestant on Dog Eat Dog and during a stunt where they had to remain underwater, the mechanism that was to catapult him out of the water failed. NBC won’t honor his request for the raw footage so to this day he has no idea of how long he was deprived of oxygen. His lawyer, Artmen Tashjian, and his girlfriend, Gloria Giacomoni, speak about how he is still physically devastated. The stunt was performed in August of 2002 and over a year later he is still not recovered. He suffers from memory impairment, a decline in intellectual abilities, and severe levels of depressive symptoms. His girlfriend says he used to be so happy and has never been the same since. NBC calls the lawsuit without merit. There was a clause in the contract that all contestants sign waiving the right to hold the network responsible for any injury, including death.
Critics of reality TV claim it panders to the very worst in human nature, the sadistic desire to see others suffering and humiliated. Defenders say it is merely wanting to live vicariously through others from the safety of their homes. Gloria Giacomoni says maybe it will take a death before producers wake up and change is affected. Her pain is palpable and I really hope it never comes to that. Jason Gay points out that the networks are constantly striving to outdo each other and keep pushing the bar. Travis Draft says he won’t stop what he’s doing and will, indeed, continue to take it further. Brian Dunkleman sarcastically jokes about pitching a show to MTV called “Dunked,” not Punk’d, but Dunked where he will just walk up to random men and kick them in the… well to be more delicate than he was, the front of their pants. Sounds stupid in print but he’s actually funny. I wonder if that’s the reason he didn’t host subsequent seasons. An excess of personality for the job, perhaps?<--Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next-->
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