Rehabilitation or Cheaply Thrilling?

I was watching this show on A&E last night about some sort of bad kids getting a taste of what prison is like, I think it’s called Scared Straight.  There’s a sick sort of entertainment in watching this kind of crap.  I’m not on my high horse, I watch this shit with bells on.  It’s hilarious.

I like shows like this, I used to love Intervention, where again, I got the same type of sick satisfaction.  It’s fun to watch people’s struggle, that’s the meat of it.  That’s why it’s on TV.

Anyway it got me thinking. Are these shows for any purpose other than to entertain suburban white folks?  Do they show Scared Straight in inner city schools to scare kids from being in gangs or shoplifting?


That’s what’s really sick about it I think.  That they make these shows mock informative, but in the end it’s just a few cheap laughs at the expense of others.  We might as well give these inner city kids swords and pit them against each other in an arena like the Romans did.  That’ what we really want to see, isn’t it?  To see things get as bad as possible for someone other than us?

Nevertheless, here are some of the highlights…

–       “Don’t smile at another man in prison. If you smile at another man in prison that makes them think that you like them.  And for you to like another man in prison, something is seriously wrong with you.”

–       “The gonna tell take your left hand put on your left cheek, right hand right cheek.  Then they gonna tell you to spread ‘em.  How’s that sound?  A grown man lookin’ in another man’s butthole.  Do you want anybody lookin’ in your butthole?”

That’s far from educational.  But in context it’s damn funny.  I’m not sure how many people it converts into ex-criminals, but I’d probably watch another episode for a few more cheap chuckles.

I’m reading a lot of books on writing right now, and each one advises turning off the television.  And with that I’d say turning off the computer.  Ernest Hemingway saw some of real life, he went to war, he risked his life in the field and came back with stories.  Kurt Vonnegut did the same as well, but he didn’t realize he had a story until much later.  Getting out there is the only way to write.  Art in general is about living and not recreating from what was on TV last night.

We would all benefit from a week without TV or Internet.  I’m not one to talk, I love me some good television and interweb.

– Bryan

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