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Lights, Camera ... MAG
DumDum Da Dum
The room is adorned with elaborate floral arrangements anddecorations. The music sets the mood for romance.
Dum Dum Da Dum
Ahush falls over the audience as the bride carefully makes her way down the longstaircase, white train billowing behind. She takes a deep breath inanticipation.
Dum Dum Da Dum Dum Da Dum Da-a ...
Now all she needsis a groom.
This November, a two-hour prime time special called"Surprise Wedding" aired. Hosted by none other than Chuck Woolery from"Love Connection," the show brought ordinary women under publicscrutiny for one purpose - to propose to their significant others on nationaltelevision. Although the potential brides underwent a grueling question andanswer period, they were all ultimately rewarded with their boyfriends' consentsto marriage.
Now, what could have possessed these women to bring such aprivate matter into the public eye? It certainly couldn't have been the money;$200 hardly buys a nice leather jacket. And it couldn't have been for fun,either. No, these women were willing to compromise their dignity for 15 minutesof fame. But they aren't the only ones. More and more people are becoming seducedby the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry.
Suddenly, it's notfashionable to be discreet, and people's lives are televised with permission.This stems from the need for what I call the Three F's: Fortune, Fame and Fun.How else would you explain the recent success of the reality show"Survivor," where 16 people were marooned on an island in the hope ofwinning a million dollars? For them, fortune, fame and fun were all it took tosell their souls - and digestive tracts - on television. And who could possiblyforget the pathetically revealing "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?"special, which showed our values as a nation when it comes to human nature.According to one psychotherapist, "What ["Millionaire"] says isthat some of us have feelings of hopelessness. We don't think we can get rich byworking." One contestant even confessed, "I can't afford myself, soI've got to have someone who can afford me."
As shallow as thissounds, it's not the exception but a mirror of what's going on in our society,some say. Is it wrong to want to have enough money to live comfortably? Certainlynot. But it is pitiful that the desire to become rich and famous has become anational pastime.
The need to expose intimate relationships on the smallscreen shows a complete disregard for loved ones. Instead of discreetly workingout their differences, couples choose to expose personal problems on trashy talkshows. The sincerity and dignity of a relationship is tarnished with these publicacts of disrespect.
Dubbed by one journalist as "the crack-cocaineof television," "The Jerry Springer Show" often revolves around alove triangle in which the jilted lover physically attacks the person his/herbeloved was involved with. Appealing to the lowest common denominator, the showexploits men and women willing to sacrifice their last shreds of dignity for achance at fun and fame.
In addition to television, the World Wide Webprovides an outlet for people to expose their personal lives. In 1998, Elizabeth,the world's first Internet mom, gave birth to a son in front of millions ofonline viewers. Her obstetrician justified the crudeness of the live event byclaiming birth is a community event that should be celebrated, and witnessed, byall. Elizabeth claimed that she was unaware of the filming and had no feelingtoward it. Has our society degraded itself to the point where the beauty of birthis no longer appreciated in a profound and private manner?
Other onlinespectacles have included 24-hour broadcasts of the "Big Brother"participants and telecasts of Dennis Rodman's wild parties, all made possible bythe steady proliferation of the Webcam.
Observers of the Webcamphenomenon say it's the obvious step for a society addicted to reality-based TVshows like "Cops" and MTV's "The Real World." Why watch otherpeople's lives when they could be watching yours? Apparently there's no suchthing as embarrassment and shame in our "Do whatever pleases you"culture.
But what happens when a lack of discretion leads to more thanjust public scrutiny? Some think the growing rates of rape, self-mutilation andstalking are caused by our gross disregard for basic human nature.
Wehave to learn to treat people with dignity and respect. We also need to changeour definition of entertainment. Although reality shows are meant to appeal tothe general public, as the adage goes, sometimes less is more.
So, thenext time you hear the wedding march, make sure it's for your own life, underyour discretion.