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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Close "The Briefcase," Please

I wrote this post on Facebook earlier today, and want to share it here, with a link to a very good article.  This has to do with "The Briefcase" reality TV show.

When I first heard of "The Briefcase,"  I thought it was something from The Onion (I have a long and grand history of thinking Onion stories are true, so I am careful to research things). Unfortunately, this IS a real show.

Its premise is that a financially struggling family (described condescendingly as "low middle class") is given a briefcase full of money (I believe it's a little over 100,000 bucks). They are then presented with a Faustian bargain: they have to decide whether to keep the money or present it to a family who is also struggling, perhaps in greater ways. If Family #1 keeps the money, Family #2 continues to struggle; if Family #1 gives the money away, they have nothing and are still mired in their troubles, but know they did a virtuous deed. The families are filmed making the difficult decision as to whether they should keep the money or not. In reality, unbeknownst to each other, BOTH families have a briefcase full of money and BOTH are trying to decide whether to give it away, which is perhaps meant to muffle the repulsive factor with a little bit of "win-win." 

To me, it sounds like something Nero might have cooked up, except he would have held the show in the Coliseum and thrown one (or both) families to the lions afterwards...which, if you think about it, is exactly what's going to happen. The families will have their decisions raked over the coals (imagine the headlines), their perceived selfishness or virtuousness weighed and measured, and their circumstances left wide open for every ignoramus in the world to judge ("How can they call themselves poor when they have TEN packs of Top Ramen on the counter? If they were REALLY poor, they'd have only one, and it wouldn't be brand-name.")

 Using a group of struggling people for entertainment purposes, and to line the pockets of those who create and produce these shows, seems wrong and shameful to me. 

Here is an article regarding this show.