The Real Thugs of Reality TV, and the Life Lessons they teach us all | Street Jazz

The Real Thugs of Reality TV, and the Life Lessons they teach us all



“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.” - Christopher Hitchens

In the newspaper this morning I read a short piece about one of the stars (yes, the article used the word “star”) of the reality program Swamp People, which is shown on what is still laughably referred to as the History Channel.

You know the History Channel. This is the cable channel where people (with even worse hair than the Men with Bad Haircuts in Congress) can look at a painting done in the Renaissance, spot something floating in the background, and cite it as evidence that yes, indeed, aliens were around at the time of Christ’s birth.

Don’t try telling any of the art critics who fall for this that the Renaissance was a long, long time after the birth of Jesus; they just look at you with a mixture of both scorn and pity.

Pulling ourselves out of the Pool of Digression, we return to Noces Joseph LaFont Jr., known to his television fans as “Trapper Joe.” Last Wednesday the “star” was arrested on charges of domestic violence.

While staying at at a motel near Disney World, Trapper Joe found himself arguing with his girlfriend. Well, what’s a TV reality star to do, when he has an argument with a loved one?

Well, he tried to burn her with a cigarette.

He also punched her.

I guess he didn’t understand that he was supposed to save this sort of behavior for when the cameras were rolling. I guess the producers should have clued him in on this.

For those who don’t watch the show - and I have to admit, that I am one of them - Swamp People is about Cajuns in the Louisiana swamps who hunt alligators for their meat and their skins.

I have absolutely no doubt that the domestic abuse incident will somehow be woven into the narrative of the program at some point. In fact, I am actually surprised that we haven’t done a reality show about about domestic abusers, showing their human, cuddly side. After all, if Bobby Brown can be fawned over on daytime TV talk shows by people who really should have more self-respect . . .

I have this creepy feeling that while the rest of the world sees their working class as dynamic parts of society, and even political forces to be reckoned with, in this country, we have allowed the thugs and the ill-mannered to represent the working class, whether they be “real” housewives or people who spend their time cheating and threatening co-workers.

And while we chortle at their cavorting on screen, our children see it, too. They see a world without Solidarity, without decency, and workers who exist to do the bidding of the bosses.

And who ultimately benefits from that?

And, (and boy, you really can’t say this often enough) the people who make the rules we live by see the images these shows present to the world. When they see buffoons on the television screen representing the working class, that is you and your family they are seeing. It is your husband and your wife. It is your parents and your children.

Do you really think that isn’t reflected in their legislation?

In the play, The Andersonville Trial, by Saul Levitt, the prosecutor confronts the commandant of the former Civil war prisoner-of-war camp. The commandant goes into a long litany of the security measures he must constantly undertake to prevent the men from escaping until he describes the men digging tunnels like rats, and the prosecutor seizes upon this, and charges:

“And rats may die, and one need no compunction about rats?”

The commandant agrees. But then hurriedly realized his mistake, and then accuses the prosecutor of playing a “cheap lawyerly trick” on him.”

Very well, he concedes, you did not see them as rats, but you did see them as less then men. They had become less than men in his eyes.

And our willingness to go along with the debasement of human beings on TV, the debasement of the working class, makes it easier for those higher in the food chain to see us as less deserving of good schools, protection of voting rights, or even job safety.

Because they know you have been conditioned to believe it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Solidarity? That’s just another European word Americans don’t need to understand.

Besides, The Mudlarks of Minnesota is on tonight, and we’ll see the repercussions of Dad shooting his daughter in the leg last week.

If any . . .


I keep waiting for somebody in the GOP to extol the life of the Mudlarks . . .

I think about Mudlarks, sometimes, when I think about poverty in this country. It’s not that far a leap in the imagination from dumpster diving to Mudlarking, which truly was a full-time occupation, and pretty horrific, when you think about it.

I keep waiting for somebody in the GOP to extol the Mudlarks as the road to success for America’s poor, especially the young among us.


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