Airing Dirty Laundry
When I was growing up we were taught that it was not appropriate to "air your dirty laundry in public." By this was meant that if you had stuff going on at home that wasn't pretty, you didn't share it with the whole world, you kept it to yourselves and dealt with it behind closed doors.
Of course it can be argued that this philosophy has a negative side, that being that sometimes horrible things were going on at home and battered wives or abused children were afraid/ashamed to tell anybody. But that's not what I'm talking about here. In a way this post ties into yesterday's topic about what we call entertainment.
Tonight I'm watching the latest episode of Orange County Choppers on tv with my husband. I've been watching this show since it's inception several years ago. In the early years Paul Sr. screamed and yelled a lot, and Paul Jr. yelled back. It wasn't pretty but it made for great tv ratings, and they always made up after things cooled down. Recent years have seen their relationship deteriorate to the point that they parted company in a now famous scene that has replayed across our screens countless times, and eventually went so far as to sue each other over company assets and financial losses. They barely communicate, and do not hesitate to snipe at each other on national tv. And of course we have the Discovery Channel billing these past two seasons as Paul Sr. vs Paul Jr, and you know that they do all they can to promote the animosity because it builds ratings and draws viewers.
Sad, really sad. Heartbreaking really. Each one talks about the efforts they have made/refuse to make to meet the other half way and restore peace and harmony to the family, both blames the other for the breakdown in their relationship and communications. Yet guest star after guest star mentions to them that they ought to get their proverbial act together and mend fences. But then again, that might make ratings fall and ratings translate into dollars and continuing production.
I can't imagine anything as heartbreaking as being the families of these two guys and watching your "dirty laundry" being displayed week after week for the entire world to witness. Both men should be ashamed, Discovery execs should be ashamed for promoting such fare. I hoped last season would end in a true reconciliation, it didn't. I hoped this season would head in that direction, so far it hasn't. I wonder what it's going to take... one of them dying to realize that they played the game of public war a little bit too long... at what cost? What's been lost? And would things have gone this far if it hadn't been for tv cameras and lucrative contracts?
We watched the similar demise of relationships and a breakdown of family in the final years of "Little People Big World", a show that started out with strong family values and was infused with Christian principles. In the final two years of the series all we saw was how miserably unhappy Matt and Amy were with each other, how the kids lives seemed to be ambling as opposed to directed, and one wondered if the marriage would even survive. Again, tv cameras were there to record every hostile word spoken, every tear, every sad and depressing detail of a marriage unravelling and a family struggling to hold together. Again I wondered if things would have ended up in the same place had there not been a public display of "dirty linen", if their lives had remained private and off camera.
Does all the publicity and the fame and fortune that go with tv reality shows have a tendency to intensify small problems? What would happen if any of our lives were followed by tv cameras 24/7? What if the producers were delighted with anything incendiary that might increase the ratings? I don't know the answers but it certainly is depressing to watch what appears to be relatively normal, sensible people behave in ways that would have a child standing in the corner or being sent to their room. The tragedy is that real relationships are being damaged in the process of churning out tv episodes, maybe beyond repair.
Once again I ask, is this really entertainment? Or do we watch to make us all feel better about the glitches in our own lives... after all we certainly aren't like THAT... or are we?