Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sensationalize Me - Trap of the Tyra Show

The TV in my apartment is notoriously broken. "Oh yea, we only have channel," the roommates and I are constantly saying to confused friends and visitors. I don't know if it's because we don't pay for cable or if it's just plain broken, but the TV is permanently stuck on the CW. This hasn't caused any huge issues as we either don't much TV (the roommates) or watch everything online (me).

When I came back to Iowa City from Spring early, the quiet of our normally hectic apartment freaked me out a little. I figured a little background noise would be good and turned on my TV. The Tyra Banks Show (just Tyra?) was on - this is how I lost many precious hours.

With titles like "Help, My Teen is Beating Me!" and "The Woman with Two Vaginas!" and "I'm Desperate to Get Rich Off My Kids," I should've recognized the trap on the screen. My Sensational Fiction professor would probably pinpoint "descriptive language," "stimulating visuals," and "the displaying of domestic private." I'm just going to call it the OMFG factor.
The OMFG factor works like this:
1) a person of "authority," in this case Tyra Banks, shares with us that something shocking, horrifying, disgusting is about to be revealed. This must be done in a somber voice with as much gravity as possible.
2) The audience is set up to feel a certain emotion - "the following might offend or disturb you."
3) A member of the "fringe" community is out on display for the audience to divulge in our voyeuristic tendencies from a distance.
4) We to feel okay in judging others - cause I mean, there is a whole live audience there! Besides, eating your own scab is weird, amirite?
Of course, this is really just my lame justification for watching a trashy daytime show. But at least, I'm not watching Maury.
- Alyssa Marchetti

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