Monday, April 7, 2008

The Moment of Truth: The Edge of the Fall of American Society

The Moment of Truth: Who wants to be a millionaire meets Jerry Springer. Who worries about nudity on tv and violence and can watch this? People with flawed lives and even more flawed judgement appear on a game show where they are asked a series of personal questions while subjected to a lie detector. Apparently they gather information about the contestants ahead of time, and sereptitiously, so they can ask the most embarrasing questions possible. Then, before a live audience and in front of their close friends, family, and soon-to-be ex, they are asked the questions where their truthful answers are the most damaging to their relationships. The husband gets to hear his wife admit that she has trouble being faithful to him, the girlfriend gets to hear that her boyfriend doesn’t want to have children with her, that sort of thing. If ever there was one show that illustrates the intellectual, and dare I say it, moral, decline of American culture, this is it.

For starters, lie detectors are notoriously subjective and inaccurate, and yet they are the ultimate arbitors of truth on the show. Why not just use a magic 8-ball? Then there are the dramatic questions, except they aren't dramatic at all, because the answer is always "yes, I did that horrible thing that is making my mother squirm". And worse yet, the questions are often the sorts of things that everyone does, but no one wants to admit. Have you ever regretted marrying your husband? Has it ever been difficult staying faithful? Who among us can really say these have never been issues? Part of the reason fidelity and commitment are so respected is because there are temptations which we all must deal to maintain that. There is no bravery without fear.

The next time you wonder why we in America can't solve our complicated social, scientific, and political issues, think of The Moment of Truth, a show, not about truth, but about embarrasment, emotional pain, and the enjoyment of seeing it in others, completely bereft of any intellectual content. It's about condeming people for what all of us feel at one time or another. It is the all time low, and of course, it is on Fox. The Gong show was elevated compared to this. And we wonder why the world laughs at us.


Peter L. Winkler said...

Judging the entirety of TV by the worst possible example from the worst network and then extrapolating that as representative of the entire culture is an anecdotal fallacy that anyone devoted to the scientific method should avoid.

ScienceAvenger said...

I agree entirely, but that isn't what I did. I made the extrapolation based on a lot of shows, long before I ever heard of TMOT. It's (sadly) confirmation of the theory, not the basis of it.