Friday, May 7, 2010
I love television. But...I don’t just love to watch it, I love the business of television. My dream job would be the president of programming for a network. There is a science to it. Balancing quality with ratings. Whenever you have an art form in a business, especially one so grounded in profit, the pressure is high.
Below: Justin Chambers
I have noticed over the past several weeks I have been watching less and less televison. Partly because I have gotten much busier with work. Partly because I have gotten busier with life. Having a DVR is also a reason. The list of shows I had to watch live has dwindled to one or two. I still love a few shows, Glee being at the top of the list (although great to see some ballet on Glee, I would have re thought that last number...). The rest of my watching involves the DVR and the fast forward button.
Below: Mark Salling in Glee
I have been particularly disgusted lately by all the ‘doctors’ on tv. Not the hotties frequenting Seattle Grace or other fictional tv hospitals. I am talking about the ‘real’ doctors who now not only have begun to take over daytime televison, they have also begun to creep into prime time with Dr. Drew Pinskey, a constant stream of commercials for medications and doctors all over night time talk shows and cnn. Though good television blends money with art, it should not be balancing money with health and especially with fear.
It should be illegal to advertise drugs on tv and for that matter in all media. I find myself watching them thinking they are talking about me. (I mean don’t we all get nervous speaking in front of others). It seems you cannot sit down for a hour of tv without having to hear about heart attacks, erectile dysfunction, depression, mental illness and peeing just a wee bit when you giggle. I miss commercials selling jello and shampoo. Truly, if you were not depressed when you sat down, you would be by the time you were done. These ads cannot help but get into our minds. I really feel the few they may help are not as close the high numbers of those they actually harm.
I believe that doctors might make the occasional decent talk show guest. They should not however, actually be hosting their own talk shows. The conflict with this should be more than clear. In North America, the US in particular, health care is a business. It is money driven with doctors getting kick backs for prescribing certain medications and pharmaceutical companies having a terrifying amount of power. Some pharmaceutical companies fund medical schools, and in return there are expectations on the graduating students to be loyal to their products. It is beyond immoral that someone in need, in pain, can go to their doctor for help... only to have the help be somehow based on the doctor making a buck. Yes medical personal should be paid, and paid well. But...they should not be paid extra to push certain drugs and certain procedures over others. This system is prime for abuse with the patients, those most at need, the ones getting screwed.
It is no secret that getting universal health care has not been as simple as people just not wanting it. If you think there are not millions of dollars pushed into the fight each day by pharmaceutical and insurance companies you should know there are. Their goal is to stop it from happening so they don't lose the control they currently hold over the monopoly.
It is interesting to me that as Obama has pushed the issue to the forefront this past year (got to give a high five for Hillary for trying many years earlier, that at the same time, doctors are now all over our television screens. Some might argue the plus is that there are a lot of people getting free medical advice. To me, we are paying and there is nothing free about it.
There are many reasons for this trend but at the forefront is the ego of Oprah Winfrey. Her need to push her views down the throat of America led us to have Dr. Phil inflicted on us. She also brought us the much easier to swallow Dr. Oz, who though more likable is still a symbol of cash for caring. The Doctors (even with cutie Travis Stork) round out 3 hrs of doctors shoving a multitude of fact and an equal multitude of misinformation down our throats each day.
Below: Dr. Oz
I firmly believe all of these doctors, even Dr. Phil, began with good intentions. I also firmly believe that it is now ultimately money that is driving them all. I really do like Dr. Oz, but I was very disappointed recently that he was accompanying his wife on the talk show circuit to help her promote her book about their marriage. Yes, I know the book was about helping us ‘all’ with our marriages, but really... it was only written because women (and many men) lust after Dr. Oz and given she has him someone out there thought there was money in her words of wisdom.
Below: Travis Stork.
Dr. Phil is certainly the worst at exploiting his wife and son for profit. Both have books out (and there was no real reason for either to have written one except they are related to him). His son has his own projects shoved at us under the guise of helping. Dr. Phil’s interest in helping others is clearly near the bottom of his list of priorities. Exploiting others pain is closer to the top of the list. Dr. Phil never misses an opportunity to have his face front and center whenever a celebrity is in trouble. If Lindsay Lohan gets drunk at a party, you can bet Dr. Phil is going to pop up that night on Larry King to discuss it.
I recently met a girl who was quite traumatized by being dragged on the Jenny Jones show by her mother when she was just 6. She had no choice, no rights. She also has friends and family who stupidly think bringing out the video at holidays and get togethers is somehow funny. I suspect Jenny Jones, Maury, Dr. Phil and the lot are going to be spending a lot of time in court in the future. All those so called ‘adults’ who are on these shows discussing their unborn children (who da daddy?) may have to deal with a lot of anger when these babies reach their late teens and twenties. Dealing with the baggage and pain from being on these shows and having it followthem all of their lives may be something they want justice for. Can you imagine having the facts of your conception, the good and the ugly on a DVD that your friends and family can pull out whenever they get the notion? Kids need to know they were wanted, and having your life played out without your control on one of these shows would scare almost anyone for life.
Dr. Phil should have his licence to practice revoked. Oprah should be ashamed of inflicting him onto the world. It is one thing to bring us Nate to help us pick out our drapes, but bringing out doctors to fling around information that sometimes helps, sometimes misinforms and sometimes simply spreads fear is really quite unforgivable.