There were coliseums with gladiatorial combat, there was bear baiting, now there’s chat shows with chav baiting. Jeremy Kyle, Rickii Lake, Maury, Jerry Springer, Trisha, we’ve all seen them. Whether it’s to feel superior for half an hour or because there’s nothing else on, we’ve seen the freak show, seemingly crazy people who can’t sort out their own lives so need to parade it round in front of the nation for everyone to see to fix it. And hopefully have a fight.
Every so often on these shows, well-meaning (though often stupid) people are dragged onto the show with no explanation so someone can tell them something that will tear them apart in front of millions of people.
Concerta Serrano wasn’t stupid, but she was exploited. The daughter of this woman, Sarah Scazzi, went missing in August. As 3.5 million people watched live, Serrano was told on TV that her daughter was actually dead, murdered by her brother-in-law. As she sat in shock, the cameras were not turned off her until 12 minutes after she received the news.
Have we gone too far for entertainment? We exploit the emotions of innocent people for five minutes of vague amusement. Cameras zoom in on faces that are shocked, angry and upset so we can see the full extent of their anguish. Ok, watching a fat bloke trip over a curb is hilarious, but the worst they’ll suffer is a heart attack (which’ll teach him to lay of the pies in future). However, is broadcasting the moment a good person life falls apart ethically correct? Where do we draw the line?
Here are some milder examples:
Baby, we have even more in common than you thought, I was born with a penis too:
Mum, I’m a slag:
You ain’t the daddy:
Mum, I get naked and fuck in front of a camera:
You’re stealing men from my race. Promise I’m not racist:
Mum, I’m fucking your mum:
Sure, sometimes the problem can get resolved when it comes out in the open, but who’s going to be completely themselves with lights, cameras, an accusing host with a microphone and a screaming audience in their faces? Not many. And what’s next? Is worse and worse news going to be delivered in this way? Not only are you pregnant, but the baby is a vegetable. You have HIV. Just kidding! You have AIDS. We know you got that phone call from you parents after the earthquake saying they were ok, but actually they died in the aftershock. Or maybe they’ll forget the studio and just take a camera to someone’s house. Knock knock. Hey, you’re on BBC 2! Pack your stuff the bank’s just foreclosed on your house.
On the other hand, many of these people are idiots, and got themselves into the mess by being oblivious, naive and plain stupid. Why shouldn’t we let them know just how much they don’t belong in normal society? It’s a moral dilemma.
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