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Friday, January 25, 2008

You can't handle the truth!

Adam already fell on the sword regarding Fox's latest ratings bonanza, "Moment of Truth," but there's a riveting conversation going on at the Onion AV Club's TV Blog about the same show. I watched a minute of the premiere and found the pacing and premise so off-putting, I couldn't even force myself to freeze the remote for the sake of making fun of it on this very blog.

Writer Sean O'Neal, on the other hand, doesn't attempt to hide his glee at watching the very worst television has to offer.

O'Neal writes, "In college, I missed an awful lot of afternoon classes to gawk at the filthy, titillating laundry being aired on daytime talk shows. I have yet to miss even an episode of "Celebrity Rehab." So when "Moment Of Truth" was first announced, I’ll admit that I got that same old evil glint in my eye, tenting my fingers like Mr. Burns in anticipation of all the excellent pain I’d be witnessing."

All good, right? Well, O'Neal doesn't appear to have reached deep into his soul for empathy in a sudden moment of weakness while plowing through a bag of Doritos. Instead, he claims, "I found my schadenfreude quickly turning to self-disgust amidst the 'oooohs' of the ceaselessly hooting studio audience, that old reliable Greek chorus of man’s basest instincts, which I swear has never sounded more like the baying of bloodthirsty jackals (and I used to watch a lot of "Jerry Springer"). Is this what we’ve been reduced to now? Selling out our secrets - and with them our carefully constructed personal lives - for the viewing pleasure of (expletive)-flinging monkeys, all in exchange for a little bit of attention and a pittance of cash? "Moment Of Truth" left me moaning about "values" and "morals" like a Brylcreemed '50s preacher burning an Elvis Presley record, and for that I hate it."

Great, great stuff. Even better is the subsequent discussion taking place in the "Comments" portion of the post. The funny thing to me is that everyone is analyzing the show as if it's an exercise in real pain. REAL marriages are collapsing! REAL friendships are at stake! I can't watch because it feels too REAL!

As Adam pointed out a few posts below, America clearly didn't have problems watching complete strangers reveal "deep, dark secrets" on a cheesy game show with a complete tool for a host. Not surprising. I, on the other hand, wouldn't feel uncomfortable watching this because, well, I'm not buying it for one damn second. It didn't take an Ivy League education to figure out that most of what was on "Jerry Springer" back in the day was completely manufactured. So I'm making an educated guess that most of "Moment of Truth's" drama is similarly scripted. I mean, c'mon, a physical therapist who apparently cheats on his wife was the first contestant. A physical therapist? Could they have picked a more obvious occupation to have access to good looking members of the opposite sex? Why not just make the dude a Hollywood talent scout or a cameraman for "Girls Gone Wild?"

Anyway, it's fake. I'm not astute for saying it, but I'm making that declaration right now without watching the show (or ever watching the show in the future, for that matter.) And while I fully accept that the general public is stupid enough to risk an entire marriage or relationship for a shot at paltry sums of cash, I just don't think this show is worthy of debate when it comes to greater issues of morality or our responsibility as humans regarding the private nature of innermost thoughts or tendencies. Instead, I'm giving the producers a thumbs down for creating false drama and scripting the embarrassing questions as if they're somehow exposing massive flaws in the delicate fabric of society. If anyone wants to get mad, they should be upset that people are falling for this latest "reality" ruse, not what the potential fallout could be for contestants on a plane ride home. I mean, geez, give me 10 minutes and I'll manufacture a compelling "lie detector" scene fit for the public's gluttonous consumption. Man, you think we'd all have learned not to trust TV networks by now.

That said, I'd still love to see "Celebrity Moment of Truth" with Colin Powell.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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