By Amy McCollom
I do not watch soap operas. Well, not any more. I used to watch The Young And The Restless, The Bold And The Beautiful, and As The World Turns years ago. When the story lines became too ridiculous, I stopped watching. I have never been a fan of someone else’s fiction. I like real stuff. Genuine. Live. That is why I got hooked on watching judge shows. Real people, real cases, Judge Judy.
My favorite judge show is Judge Mathis. I like the man. He gives good advice, seems to genuinely care about the people on his show, and is very interesting. Sometimes on the show, he gives bits of history and he is always entertaining. Judge Mathis has a good sense of humor.
Then one day while I was admiring his silk purple tie, the next case came on and I realized something. Suddenly Judge Mathis had on a different colored tie. I was saddened and mad at myself for the self-induced illusion I was in. He had on a different tie because the cases were pieced together; they were not sequential as the show portrays. I felt like I had been duped
Same thing with Judge Judy. I noticed different hairstyles on the judge and different audience members too. The People’s Court was the same way. So, I did a little investigating.
Turns out, nothing on TV is as it seems, especially the judge shows. I should have known, and I beat myself up over falling for it. I’m smarter than the average bear, by golly.
I discovered that the litigants in the court cases are coached on what to say, told to be aggressive and argumentative, and don’t even have to pay any money when they lose a case. Turns out, there is a general fund that all awards get paid from. On the Judge Judy show, the most anyone can be awarded is $5,000. The litigants are flown in for the show, and have a free stay at a hotel until the show shoots the next day. Makeup and hair styling is also a perk for the guests on the show. Who wouldn’t want that? A free trip and a makeover too.
I read about one encounter of a couple who were in a dispute over an unpaid loan, however, the couple was still together. They went on the Judge Mathis Show for the sole purpose of making money. The man said he was kept in the dark about what to expect until just before he went on the show. Then a producer informed him that he was to verbally attack the other litigant, ruthlessly. He really didn’t want to, as he was still in a relationship with this girl. But to get the money they set out to get, he had to say some pretty awful things to and about his partner. In the end, he was awarded the amount of money he was after, but at what expense? He felt guilty and just horrible for the way he treated his partner. She forgave him, but it didn’t erase what was said that day. He regretted even going on the show.
Reality shows; do not think for a minute they are real. During my research, I discovered that nothing is as it seems. All the shows are fake to some extent. Maybe it’s just me and my personality, but I can’t be dumbed-down in order to be entertained at someone else’s expense. I also refuse to watch T.V. shows with canned laughter. They are an insult to my intelligence. If I have to be prompted to laugh by a laugh track, like a Pavlovian response, then I might as well put on a sheep costume and get in line behind everyone else. No thank you.
The television holds up to its mockery of a name; the idiot box. The less TV a person watches, the better their real life will become. So instead of flopping down and becoming a zombie in front of a screen, I will read more, sing more, dance more, think more, draw more, cook more, play with my pets and kids more, and maybe even write more. Anything will be better than watching a screen.
This is just my opinion though. Feel free to adopt it, or discard it. My goal has always been to make you think. I hope that I accomplished that here.