Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Done Been on TV!

The really troubling thing isn’t that there are now officially more imitations of the Jerry Springer show than anyone could hope to count — shows on which the poor, illiterate, and/or obese scream at one another hysterically about suspected infidelities they’re ultimately shown, via DNA or lie detector tests, to have or not have committed, while a studio audience of cretins brays and hoots and wets itself in moral outrage. No, the most terrifying thing is that there’s an apparently endless supply of poor, illiterate, and obese persons eager to suffer such humiliation in exchange for the ability to say, “I done been on TV!”

These are unmistakably the same people who do most of the commenting on Facebook and YouTube. We knew before that they can’t spell, and are hopelessly confused by apostrophes, but now they reveal themselves to be lots better with apostrophes than with biology. While I was cooking the lasagna I will serve James and Naomi this evening, I was watching Maury, which I wish were called Maury!, the daily morning geek show hosted by the eminent journalist Maury Povich. In the time it took me just to boil the noodles, I think I must have seen no fewer than 15 ugly confrontations. My favorite pitted a balding, blue-eyed man against a fat white woman with cornrows he’d met on line. She claimed he was the father of her daughter, while he, accompanied by the mother of his two sons, explained no such thing was possible. Was it not obvious that he “shot out” only boys? And he and Cornrows had done it only once, and he’d pulled most of the way out!

Maury, who’s 70 now (as are not a few of your and my fave rock stars, and then some!) put on his reading glasses, smirked the smirk that the hosts of these shows are taught before they're allowed on the air, and revealed that a DNA test conducted by one of the show’s sponsors confirmed that Balding was indeed the little girl’s dad, at which the audience leapt to its feet squealing exultantly, going nyah-nyah-na-nyah-nyah, and thumbs-downing the poor devil.

They do exactly the same when what Maury announces the result of a lie detector test. I’ve yet to see a single person on one of these shows point out that in 1998’s United States v. Scheffer, the Supreme Court ruled that "there is simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable". I suspect people are warned by the shows’ producers that their segments won’t be broadcast if they don’t play along.

After Balding’s exposure, there was a succession of fat black people, the most interesting of whom accused each another of sexual relations with their babydaddies’ stepsisters, and I was struck by the audience’s lofty morality. At the sound of the word cheating from Maury’s mouth, they absolutely howl. And should he utter threesome, for instance, they get absolutely apoplectic with outrage.

A blonde woman with a Tom Petty underbite came on next to accuse her fiancé, a blue-eyed numbskull in a backward baseball cap, of having cheated on her with “a ho on rollerblades.” Both seemed to be products of intensive inbreeding. The numbskull, who is officially able to cast exactly as many votes for President, say, as the head of Harvard’s political science department, was revealed, by lie detector, to have done the ho, and the audience would have gnawed his fingers and nose if it could have. And tomorrow there will be countless dozens more like him.

Sometimes I get so a-scared living in what Sarah Palin calls this great nation of ours.

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