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Talk Shows: Love /*Em Or Leave /*Em This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "It ain't my fault you is a hoochie!"

"You callin' me a hoochie? You know what you is ..."

No, you aren't witnessing a domestic dispute. It's just another day on one of our country's fine talk shows. As you can probably tell, the fictional guests quoted above could stand to view a few episodes of "Hooked on Phonics."

Seriously though, talk shows have been a topic of discussion lately. The question being asked is: are they cheap trash or just pure entertainment? Television critics argue that talk shows are the lowest form of television, and that they convey racism and cheating spouses as perfectly acceptable. However, many viewers insist that it is just good fun.

I'm not sure if it is all good fun though. You may remember the "Jenny Jones" incident. In a secret crush episode, a man admitted his crush on another guy. Enraged by the fact that a gay man had feelings for him, the man went ballistic and killed his admirer. Of course, this is an isolated incident. Nevertheless, should an innocent man die just because he admitted his honest feelings?

On the other hand, talk shows are amusing. I get a particular kick out of watching the screaming matches that often take place. I've developed a whole new vocabulary, chock full of expletives. And watching talk shows is a great way to learn what profane slang words are being used in the other parts of our country.

Some shows are worse than others. I've found that I can watch an episode of "Oprah" without feeling guilty. However, when it gets time for "Charles Perez" or "Richard Bey," I run toward the nearest church begging for forgiveness. Some hosts claim to offer "clean" entertainment. While Oprah has remained true to her word, watching an episode of "Ricki" reminds me of why we have shelters for battered women.

Another burning issue on the talk show front is that of "serial guests." Perhaps you will remember Don and Janet. Yes, they were on "Jerry Springer" confronting former guests. And on "Gordon Elliott," married men who thought they were single. The list includes 15 other appearances. People like Don and Janet make a hobby of appearing on these shows. Also in constant contact with the show's producer are "stringers," who hook shows up with guests. Most of the time, the guests are imposters.

I've come to grips with my love/hate relationship with talk shows. I guess it depends on your personality. After all, some people love to get involved with the problems of others. And others like to wallow in self-pity. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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