That’s entertainment?

I was asked to visit an individual who was hospitalized for a chemical dependency. Her parents were familiar with my work as well as my previous struggles, and believed I could be of some help, I was more than happy to visit. Once in the facility, I was directed to the day room, a common area for patients. While I was waiting for my visit, a group of 10 or so were huddled around a television jumping up and down, shouting at the television, and high fiving each other. Considering this was a Wednesday morning, it was highly unlikely a sporting event was on, so I was curious to the point of wandering on over to see what program was causing such emotion.

Hi everybody! What’s on the television? Half turned to me, the other half kept their eyes on the television, but in unison quietly yelled Springer! Familiar with the name but unfamiliar with the program, I was told to sit down, and “check him out.”

The show started out as most talk shows do, with the host welcoming his audience and an announcement of the show’s topic. This particular segment dealt with marital infidelity and how the behavior gnaws away at the foundation of a marriage. The host invited his guests to come on stage, having them seated in a semi-circle. Before they had a chance to be seated, and without provocation, two women began attacking each other. One began ripping the other’s clothing and throwing punches that were not even in the same area code. The other was taunting and screaming obscenities as she deflected the flailing fists. The stagehands, after deciding that was about enough entertainment, stepped in to separate the two female gladiators. At the same time the combatants were ushered back to their seats, the studio audience began yelling and offering each other high fives.

After some encouragement by the host to settle down, the women were introduced to the fired up crowd, and the man these two women are competing for is seated between the two. With a prosecuting demeanor, Springer starts interrogating the guests with questions; hard hitting stuff like, “don’t you know you’re married?” “Do you think what you doing here is wrong?” ‘Which of these women do you really want?” As the man of the moment begins to profess his unyielding love in a language only a Springer follower gets, the carnage starts all over, and the combatants are led off to cool down while the next set are escorted to the center stage. Guests are questioned and derided until the final segment of the show. After returning from a commercial break, the guests are brought out and seated next to each other. You would have hoped for the problem solving portion of the program here.

The moderator, however, meanders out into the studio audience and invites them to share their thoughts and feelings with everyone watching about the shows participants. Instead of getting the help they desperately need, once again the insults start flying, the crowd is whipped up into a frenzy, and you guessed it- fists start flying once again. The end of this debauchery comes when we get to Springer’s final thought. Here ol’ Jer tries to offer his perspective on what it was we just witnessed. A message he claims we can all use as a learning tool. After his brief sermon, he closes with the words “Take care of you and yours.”

Never before have I witnessed such degrading programming. People dehumanized at every turn, dehumanization passes today as “entertainment.” We are a society obsessed with low source programming, both on television and in print.  If it lacks a good balance of sex, murder or mayhem, many of us would choose not to watch. The competition for ratings has given birth to programs that have little regard for human decency, and it’s not only the Springer’s, but actual legitimate news people such as Maury Povich.  Mo-Po carved his initials in this programming venue by embarrassing young women searching for the Father of their children. If you actually believe this show was not targeted at a specific group, then think again. The method of proof would be paternity tests- the results to be announced live on television, at 3:00 in the afternoon…hmm

Here is how it works. You had a Mother and a cadre of suspected Fathers all seated on a stage next to each other. You let them go back and forth yelling, screaming and accusing each other about all the reasons they were or were not, the responsible party. You let a little animosity build, and fire up the crowd, much like the Springer circus. Once the crowd was sufficiently riled up and the accusers made their case, an envelope would be held up containing the test results. Before the results were revealed, an obligatory commercial let even more anticipation build. Once back, it was time for the results. The ringleader opened the envelope, teased the double digit IQ crowd about 10 seconds, then announced the Fathers name.

I call the hosts of these programs ringleaders, and the programs they host, freak shows, because that’s what they remind me of, the freak show. Remember the freak show? Human beings with abnormalities, physical or mental defects paraded around a stage for the amusement of others. The bottom line is this live exhibition is purely dehumanizing and carries no place in a spiritual soul. There should never be a correlation between entertainment and human brokenness.

I do not wish, nor is it my intent to insult what you find entertaining. We all need to be entertained, we need to stay informed as to the goings on in our world, in our society. I am only suggesting to keep your choices to those that inspire you, that keep you in a positive frame of mind. When you come across a story on television that represents low source information, I suggest you pass. I would also recommend you save the four or five bucks on the trashy magazines and keep your life as positive as possible.  God will bring you to the vision, the rest is up to you…Paul

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