Thursday, April 29, 2004

"THE ULTIMATE REALITY SHOW"
It's a bad idea to declare, "television can't get anymore tasteless." Network executives apparently view this not as an attack but as a challenge.

Fox has long been in the vanguard of the Crap TV movement. Some of their "reality" shows (such Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance) have done exponentially more to cheapen the institution of marriage than the inclusion of gays ever could. Others exploit fat people and ugly people and short people.

Tommorrow, ABC's "news" program 20/20 is following the path of five couples who are interviewed as potential adoptive parents to the same little baby. The Associated Press reports: The birth mother had chosen an "open" adoption process where she selected potential parents from a group of applicants. The couples chosen agreed to have the process documented by ABC News.

This itself could be an insightful look at the adoption process. Yet, ABC's promotions for the show leave one to wonder if 20/20 will treat the process like a documentary or a reality show. Things weren't helped by 20/20's John Stossel. Stossel, well-known for his, um, candor, said that co-host Barbara Walters "will bring you what might be called the ultimate reality show."

Walters, herself an adoptive mother, insisted that 20/20 would simply report what happened.

The line between news and entertainment, information and titilation, was blurred a long time ago. At least in the private American media. But say what you will about the bilge Fox puts out, those shows were, at worst, infantile pranks in bad taste, harmless except to the egoes of those involved. They didn't attempt to make the life of a newborn into "the ultimate reality show."

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