A Ku Indeed!

Moment of Truth

Posted in Life by Chris on February 29, 2008

I’ve been slacking last few days on my blog. I had a hard deadline yesterday for some of the final chapters of this book I’m finishing up. So I had to tend to it. But I have a quick post here to make. I’m wondering what folks think of this Moment of Truth “game show.” It seems totally over the top to me and morally repugnant. But yet I tuned in.

The idea behind the show is simple. You sit in a chair and answer questions “yes” or “no.” They are related to your private life. A lie detector is used (beforehand I suppose) to see what the truth to those questions is. As the money goes up, the questions get harder and more personal. But — they become more personal as their chance to wreak destruction on your life or relationships increases.

It’s weird. I watched it the other day and this woman admitted to (with her family/husband right there): (a) having cheated on him, (b) being in love with someone else on their wedding day and (c) being willing to leave the husband for this other guy (who, interestingly enough, they had come in to read the question to her!).

Basically, the whole show is based on a desire on the part of the audience for violence (mental not physical). I’m sure that the marriage in this case was wrecked. The guy looked pretty blown away. So what’s the real redeeming nature of this show? I don’t see any. There’s no talent. No luck. So it’s not really a “game show.” It’s just about finding people who have no problem trading in dollars for wrecked relationships.

Is this show at all morally permissible? (On one level, by the way, it reminds me of that older show Temptation Island). At the same time, I feel bad — I tuned in. And I wanted to know what the woman would say.

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7 Responses

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  1. Amy said, on February 29, 2008 at 7:50 am

    This show was on at the laundry while I was washing my clothes, so I watched it. There were a couple of things that got to me (and not just that the woman said she’d feed a dog over a homeless person).

    One, she insisted that her desire to continue answering relationship-destroying questions wasn’t about the money–she wanted to come clean. She might well have been telling the truth, but did it ever occur to her that she could tell her husband these things in private?? It’s not just about the truth, it’s about the delivery, which in this case was entirely inappropriate.

    Two, the host kept insisting he wasn’t comfortable. Well, what kind of show did he think he signed up for? Do people understand that they can NOT do things?

  2. Manyul Im said, on February 29, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Chris,

    I’m not sure why this isn’t a win-win situation. People get paid to be honest enough to bring their relationship to a crisis. Fom there, whether the crisis is resolved through therapy or separation, it seems like something is gained. Maybe the thing that really bothers you and others is that we can’t stop watching and that says somethng about us. Here, I think the Confucian idea that I should look first at myself to see if I am somehow at fault seems appopiate. Some interestng things about myself might be a fault in the case of this show: I’m not always honest with my spouse or myself, so I can’t turn away from the vicarious shame of having to admit things that I won’t acknowledge; I enjoy the spectacle of other people’s shame; and other things along those lines. So I see it as less about the contestants and the host and more probably about us, the viewers. This is different I think from the class-based “pleasure” of watching Jerry Springer type shows where people who are tagged in various ways as on the low end of the socioeconomic ladder are provoked into a spectacle of improprieties.

  3. Chris said, on February 29, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Amy,

    Right, on all counts. To say “I want to come clean” ON national television, in front of the husband, is nothing more than desiring to humiliate the guy as you “come clean.” So if it was about humilitation, that’s not particularly moral. If it was about the money, worse. If both, worse still!

    Yeah, the host got on my nerves acting like he didn’t like asking the questions because they “went over his line.” Right. He has no choice. A bit of acting there, obviously.

    I forgot about the dog/homeless person one.

  4. eyeingtenure said, on February 29, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Schadenfreude.

  5. Million said, on February 29, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    The only thing I can say about stuff like this is that it’s not worth dignifing with a response. It thrives by poking at our moral compasses. Sometimes a little sensationalism is healthy – maybe even good – but in some cases negelect is preferable. The problem is that by the time most of us are able to distinguish between each type a knee jerk reaction has occured.

  6. Adam said, on March 3, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    How dare you slack on your blog! Bad!
    I’ve heard about this show through the grapevine, though I doubt I’d ever watch it. Without a doubt it’s a net negative to society, but I imagine that (like most of these problems) it is agreed to by all parties as adults. This just urges me to discount all the more the views of morality that reduce moral permissibility to actual contracts among adults.
    Another angle, though is the show’s reinforcement of the validity of “lie detectors” which have dubious reliability (though this site doesn’t try to present a balanced picture).
    Finally, on my non-updated blog I’ve been meaning to post for a while about a UK game show called Golden Balls, which is a complete prisoner’s dilemma. The final round is almost an exact prisoner’s dilemma, except that the “prisoners” can speak to each other. No trivia knowledge required, just lying and team building. Oh, and like “Moment of Truth”, the real thing no one thinks about is that all of your friends watching will know after it airs how selfish and untrustworthy one can be.

  7. Chris said, on March 4, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Manyul,

    Missed your comment (it was lost in a pile of spam in the filter). I think your right at least in saying that is a commentary on us (hence, in my post my admitting “but yet I tuned in”). I’m completely aware of that dimension — it tells us something about ourselves for sure.


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