I think we are very close to seeing someone on a Hidden Camera TV Reality Show hurt someone very badly. Two of my favorite shows are “To Catch a Pedator” and “What Would You Do?” I am sure you have seen them among many others. To Catch a Pedator is television series that featured hidden camera investigations devoted to impersonating underage youth and detaining adults who contact them over the Internet for sexual liasons. Their reactions are great, because the house is a “sitting duck.”Their intent is obvious and Chris Hansen has so much ammunition, that he can pull the trigger all at once or shoot whenever he wants. Precise or Rambo style. The sting operation is epic. With the popularity of the show, you would think that these predators are going to be armed one day. As they are eating that cookie or home made brownie, they look defeated. They look guilty. They slowly open their trench coat and they are wired with dynamite.
And tell Chris Hansen very softly, “No. How about you take a seat?” But for right now, it ends so civilly that, Chris tells them they are free to leave, only to be tackled on the front lawn by the FBI.
“What Would You Do?” is a show about setting up everyday scenarios that reflect on how people react, why they react, and what they decide to do depending on the scenario. It’s horrible. I think someone is closer to getting hurt here.
What is interesting is that we haven’t seen anyone act or react in an aggressive, hostile way once they see camera men or the host. Everything is fine and dandy once they understand that it is a TV show. They slowly calm down, regroup. But, I don’t think they realize how the show has manipulated their decision making process. I think they are so relieved or excited by the entertainment value, they don’t understand the true intent of the TV show. They feel like stars, not guinea pigs. But, what if they screwed with the wrong person?
Most of these people react relieved, happy or surprised that these “actors” were really not causing true harm to their victims. Some are proud that they finally intervened and stuck up for the “injustice,” while the person minding their own business is often questioned, not rewarded. If a complete stranger came up to my wife and started the “experiment,” I would obviously lose it. I think a lot of others would too. What if I reacted how any normal, protective husband would do? What if the scenario got so inappropriate, I took my butter knife and stabbed the guy in the knee? Blood was squirting everywhere, right in the middle of a nice restaurant. The TV show is revealed and it enrages me even more. Months later, the owner of the restaurant had to shut it down due to this particular episode. John Quinones, the host is yelling hysterically to turn off the camera. People are fleeing. Of course, the “What Would You Do?’ Show partnered with the ” I’m Going To Kill You in Public” TV show and their host, Ashton Kutcher runs out and starts giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to John Quinones because he’s having a heart attack. I get charged with involuntary man slaughter, when all I wanted to do was take my wife out to dinner. Of course, she is in on the joke too and we get divorced before I go to jail. Then Chris Hansen runs out and introduces his new show, How To Catch a Media Predator that airs next week.
I think these TV shows are dangerous. I think the last thing we want to do is manufacture real problems and then monitor reaction, attempt to resolve them authentically, only to finally let people in on the joke. It reminds me of the ex girlfriend that always pretended to get mad, only to test or grade the reaction…that if the boyfriend reacted jealous, it was a sign of true love and only from there, she immediately acts normal again. I am not encouraging violence, but don’t these scenarios seem eerily similar to how real violence starts? Will this be the demise of Reality TV? Or is it here to stay, no matter what? All or nothing.