We as a society are not new to being voyeurs.
It was always front page news to watch the moral decline of a high profile figure like evangelical Ted Haggard, athlete O.J. Simpson, ENRON execs, Presidents like Bill Clinton, or any pedophile Catholic Priest.
Last night I watched “Moment of Truth” on FOX. It’s a shameless game show of voyeurism, and I loved it. In fact, 23 million others loved it as well. “Participants” endure a barrage of personal and revealing questions in front of family, friends, and a national audience. All they need to do to win up to $500,000 is simply tell the truth as determined by a polygraph.
According to John Powers, NPR’s Critic At Large, from Top 10 Cultural Trends of 2007, this is the epitome of what he refers to as the TMZing of America. This defiant blurring of the line between the public and private sectors of our lives has become quite lucrative. Journalists such as TMZ—”the official site for celebrity gossip, entertainment news, and Hollywood rumors”, capitalize upon this celebrity “dirt.”
As pointed out by Powers, even the most trivial detail of a person’s life are now out in the glitzy wide open, and along with it is their share of human drama—the not-so-glam side. America watches with gaping stare as celebrities like Brittany Spears come unraveled. In the case of NASA astronaut, Lisa Marie Nowak, her soap opera became a public spectacle indeed. But why her story over that of those that happen everyplace, USA?
It would seem that the majority of us want to see ourselves and each other without false pretense—naked, if you will. We are blogging, posting more photos, and in various other ways, pushing into a public arena what once was carefully guarded and private. Not only will others put themselves out there for us to critique, but also we subject ourselves to the same scrutiny—often ambitiously.
We all can recall the sap and utopia of younger years growing up with the Brady Bunch. Well, this week on My Fair Brady, Christopher Knight reveals more about himself and our society in one episode than he ever did in 5 years as Peter Brady. He suspects that his girlfriend, America’s Next Top Model winner, Adrianne Curry, has less interest in him that she does in her girlfriend, and it comes to a boiling point.
Beyond the money, fame, and supermodel girlfriend, he storms, “All I want is you.” Curry had “professional” nude photos taken of her with her female model friend. She collected them into an album and dramatically presented them to Knight following his birthday dinner. “Honestly, I’m quite disturbed by it . . . You’ve crossed the line . . . I’ve had all of my worst suspicions realized . . . I want a separation!” he exclaimed before grabbing his coat and going out the door.
“All I want is your love” is a gut-wrenching cry. It mesmerizes us. Who has it and who does not? The money and fame is no longer fad. The ever-elusive ghost of HAPPINESS is the new currency.
Love and acceptance for who we are is central to what it means to be healthy and human—even when culture mocks every example of what it means to be either healthy or human.
We do more than place bets on whose next. Possibly we contribute to the downfall. In the case of “Moment of Truth,” they volunteer to reveal just how morally shady they truly are, and we eat it up. Our curiosity fuels their naked revelation of themselves. We’re paying them to take their clothes off.
Why are we looking? Possibly, we will suddenly have a culture-wide epiphany; when we are naked, we all look the same.