The Rant: The Shit People Do to Their Children in Order to Be on TV

Filed under:Mothering,Priorities,Rants,Reviews,Television — posted by Anwyn on March 16, 2007 @ 9:58 pm

I don’t watch reality television. Don’t look at me that way–Dancing with the Stars is not reality TV, it’s a talent contest. And it doesn’t start till Monday.

Tonight when the TV came on, before I could get it flipped to my show, I saw about five minutes of the abomination that apparently is Wife Swap. I knew the show existed; I’d seen the promos. But this was unbelievable. A man and woman having a huge fight in front of the man’s children–the woman was the swap-in–while the children curled up miserably in the corners of the couches. Apparently the fight was over school–the woman was insisting that she homeschool them, the way she apparently does with her own children–and the man was protesting that she was “not going to mess with their futures.”

Look, I’m no enemy to homeschooling. I’d lean more towards it myself if I thought I had the patience and attention span. Her preferences are not the issue here. But a strange woman comes in to live as mother to your children and starts insisting on breaking up the kids’ settled routine and the school life they’re already living AND fights it out in a screaming match with their father? I’m sorry, but fuck that. Yeah, that’s what I said. Wouldn’t those kids’ mom flip if she saw what was going on back at the house? Their dad certainly was. The only valid point the woman had was this: “Why did you sign up?” One surmises that it’s part of the “game” to let the swap-in set some rules. But at the expense of the children’s peaceful home? They likely understand it’s for television, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to leave a mark.

Sure, I’ll say it again: Fuck that. Why would anybody sign up? You simply couldn’t pay me enough to turn my child over to somebody else, who had the goal of turning his life upside-down for the cameras, for a week or however long it is. Not even for a day. And judging by the houses they were in, they weren’t too much in need of whatever ABC is paying them. (Although, for all I know, the houses could’ve been provided by the show. Whatever.) So whether it’s greed or exposure that’s motivating them, any adult going on that show deserves whatever emotional hangover they get–but it looks to me like their kids are paying the price. Assholes.

FWIW: In the other house, with the homeschooled kids and the mother of the previous children, she was trying to get them to go to school. Mildly. Without raising her voice either to them or to the dad (although to be fair, the dad was the one doing most of the shouting in the other scenario, but it looked like he had plenty good reason). The dad was about to tell her he wasn’t going to make the children go back to school. In a measured tone of voice. Fine. Meanwhile, back in the first house, the swap-in is equating the importance of what she wants in this faux, for-camera situation with what the kids need and what their dad says they’ll have. Asshole!

Cross-posted at Electric Venom.

Lawyers, Will This Fly?

Filed under:Church of Liberalism,Politics — posted by Anwyn @ 9:11 am

Survey of Anwyn says: Probably not.

Following the end of Chief Illiniwek at the University of Illinois, Urbana’s state legislature rep is introducing a bill defining the NCAA’s actions as “improper” when they extend to a university’s choice of mascot and thus allowing the university to sue. Query: couldn’t they have sued anyway? But the NCAA is a sanctioned monopoly–the federal government gives it the exclusive right to govern collegiate sports in member institutions. I don’t know how successful a lawsuit might have been. Here’s the kicker regarding the NCAA’s action as far as I’m concerned:

The university appealed again, arguing the NCAA exceeded its authority, violated the university’s institutional autonomy and applied its policy arbitrarily because other schools were allowed to keep their American Indian mascots if they had approval from the tribe.

That’s somewhat misleading, but in both directions. It’s outrageous that the NCAA applied a standard the U of I couldn’t possibly hope to meet–approval of the tribe–since the tribes of the Illini Confederation no longer exist. On the other hand, the Florida State Seminoles kept their nickname and imagery with the consent of the Florida Seminole tribe, but it seems they also didn’t have an actual mascot like the student who dressed up and portrayed Chief Illiniwek before games. Illinois lost the imagery along with the costumed character, but it’s debatable whether the imagery alone would’ve grabbed so much attention without the dance of the chief.

So this bill, if I get the gist, would make it illegal in Illinois for the NCAA to infringe on a member school’s autonomous choice of mascot. The NCAA will undoubtedly come back with the pseudo-innocence of “We didn’t say they couldn’t have the mascot. We just said we wouldn’t be associated with it.” All well and good from the position of complete collegiate sports autonomy the NCAA holds.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace