In September, The Dr. Phil show was looking for homeschooling parents to be on the television show. I’m out of the daytime television loop, so I didn’t, and don’t, have any idea of what he’d be looking for. I just passed on the news.
Since the first announcement of the show’s collecting of the homeschoolers, the guests have been chosen, the episode taped, and response to it from those involved is being ‘aired’ via the cybersphere.
From a homeschooler’s viewpoint, it ain’t pretty.
LocalHS.com, 20 October 2006, The Great School Debate
When I finally returned their calls and reached the person at the Dr. Phil show, they sounded excited and happy that I called. However, their first request was that I not bring anyone, “Under the age of eighteen.”
After the lady who chewed homeschoolers out as the future of her government had spoken, Dr. Phil then did something that clearly indicated why the homeschoolers had been brought to be part of an audience of an episode in which hundreds of high school students had been bussed in: Dr. Phil then asked the audience, “How many of you support Homeschooling and how many of you support sending children to school?”
When it was over, I left as fast as possible. I didn’t want to be there when the others realized that this was it. Based upon the Breastfeeding Episode, I had known all along that the show would be manipulative, but I still had dreams that homeschoolers would have an opportunity to present educational, enlightening and useful homeschooling information to mainstream America on the Dr. Phil Show.
The topics in the post by Kirsten at Annette Hall’s blog about varieties of ‘the Dr. Phil experience’ are:
- Breastfeeding Guest Sabotaged
- Nursing in Tandem
- Radical Unschoolers
- Special Guest Audience
- Where’s the Debate?
- Stereotypes and Hype
- The Bait and Switch
- Audience Stuffing
Other information about Dr. Phil and the taping of the most recent ‘fill up the airwaves’ segment are at:
- The Dr. Phil schedule: Shows this week [in reference to this blog post, the link will be valid only for week of 22 - 28 October 2006]
- HE&OS: F*** DR. PHIL
- The Journey: Dr. Phil and the Public School Philistines
- A Brighter Candle: “THE GREAT SCHOOL DEBATE”
In the latter part of the ‘golden age of television,’ there used to be television shows that were informative. The participants also didn’t shout-instead-of-speak, which was something I noticed yesterday while I was working in the kitchen while my husband was back here in the ‘tv room’ watching the news. I came back to see what was going on, and it was merely ‘the continuing crisis in general,’ but read at top volume.
The Mike Douglas and Dick Cavett shows spring to mind as popular variety shows that were intelligently designed. Regardless of how you feel about John Kerry, the transcript from a 1971 debate on the Vietnam war on the Dick Cavett show illustrates this difference, although using Dick Cavett as an example seems almost as antique as referring to the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
‘Tales from my childhood’ aside, these older shows prove that there is another model for television programming. That model just isn’t one that seems to be able to survive the ‘can you be more outrageous than this?’ style of filling up the spaces between commercials, which is the point of ‘commercial television.’ It’s not about the shows, it’s about the ads. Outrage, edginess, and humiliation — and apparently full-thoracic autopsies — are what put bottoms in chairs — and are viewing experiences that prime the brainwaves — so as to have viewers in place when the commercial ads play.
If what Dr. Phil is selling gets your goat, tell his underwriters, not his writers. (I haven’t a clue who advertises on Dr. Phil’s show, but if anyone knows, feel free to comment.)
My guess is that until someone like Peter Kowalke shows up on PBS, anything that is offered by commercial television will be more of the same.
I hope I’m proven wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.