I've always felt uneasy about not liking Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
It goes beyond my distaste for network TV in general and the so-called "reality" TV in particular. I mean, it's easy to hate fake reality shows with amateur actors/attention whores as "contestants" who take direction from lame-ass producers trying to convince us that what we're seeing is totally spontaneous.
The problem with Extreme Makeover is that the actual work they do is good. They identify people who have had a rough go of it and, essentially, build a luxury house for them free of charge.
Good works, right? What could be a better motivation than to help those who are down on their luck?
Except that’s not the motivation.
The motivation is to use a sad story to manipulate the viewing public into watching an hour’s worth of advertising couched in melodrama.
But, you say, that’s what every television program does. And for the most part you’re right. Nearly every program, even sports, attempts to manipulate the emotions of the viewers to get them to keep viewing in order to see the messages of the advertisers.
Then again, most programs (sucky as they are) pay actors and writers to come up with increasingly implausible situations to tug our increasingly jaded heartstrings. In some ways, that seems more honest than the “reality” type shows because everybody – producers, writers, actors and audience – are aware of just what’s going on.
Extreme Makeover, on the other hand, is a bit more insidious. They find a real world tearjerker story and use poignant pauses and emotional music to amplify the emotion.
What could be more gripping than a Marine veteran returning home missing a leg to a house with a leaking roof and drafty windows and, oh by the away, his wife left him and his four kids.
This is a real world tragedy. It requires no emotional amplification and frankly I’m a little offended at ABC for exploiting our neighbors like this. The one saving grace, as I stated before, is that our neighbors are getting some help they haven’t received from our community.
So I guess it comes down to whether ABC’s exploitative motivation cancels out the good that is done to the families in need.
The answer is no.
But I still won’t watch Extreme Makeover or the other “reality” shows because I have a huge pet peeve against people trying to manipulate me.
tagged: Extreme Makeover, home, Ty Pennington, emotional, marketing, advertising, Kansas City, Daniel Gilyeat