Crawl Across the Ocean

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I watched about 5 minutes of the misnamed show 'Brat Camp' yesterday. The premise is that a bunch of screwed up kids get sent by their parents to a non-nonsense camp to get their lives straightened out. I say misnamed since, from the 5 minutes I saw, the kids seemed more troubled than bratty.

At any rate, my five minutes encompassed two events:

1) Somebody at the camp decided not to use whatever rudimentary toilet facilities had been provided, but instead just took a dump in the open field. The cameras zoomed in on the offending feces, but the image was blurred in the same way that nudity might be.

2) Thanksgiving arrived and with one of the kids upset and homesick, the camp counsellors figured this was a good time to get them to open up to everybody else at the camp about their problems. Under questioning, the camper admitted to having been sexually abused by family members as a kid.


So profiting from arranging circumstances for troubled kids to talk about the horrors of their past on film is all good, but showing a clear image of the shit which comes out of all of our bodies every day is off limits. I know which one I find more offensive.

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  • I have commented more than once that western society is going the way of Rome very [very] quickly. When someone is able to show me that the spectacle of reality TV is significantly different than that of the Roman arenas just before the collapse of the empire I might change my mind.... until then lions on TBS will not surprise me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:16 PM  

  • The ironic thing is that this T.V. debauchery is happening in one of the most prudish, religious Western societies in the world!

    Somehow violence/rudeness made it past the U.S. 'prude filter'.

    By Blogger Simon, at 9:22 PM  

  • I was once watching a TV show where one of the characters said "mother fucker"(excuse the language). The station bleeped out the word "mother" and not the word "fucker".

    The irony was breathtaking.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:39 AM  

  • Stageleft - being the contrarian that I am, i spent a few minutes trying to think of fundamental differences between Roman circuses and modern day reality tv, but I have to admit, I didn't come up with anytihng compelling.

    Simon - I think the U.S. is simultaneously the most prudishh Western country and the most commercialized, two tendencies which battle it out in the TV landscape.

    It is somewhat odd that they seem so uptight about sex but balse about violence although certainly this combination is not inconsistent with the history of religion.

    Colin - yeah, I've heard that too. If I was a (TV) writer I'd be tempted to write in lots of variations such as dog-fucker, father-fucker, etc. to see which ones made it past the cut and which ones didn't, but that's just one of many reasons i'll never be a (TV) writer.

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:14 PM  

  • Declan,

    I disagree with you on this somewhat. While I certainly don't condone this as "entertainment" I think showing these types of programs on TV is good, because they (the real likfe intervention programs the show is based on) are effective in dealing with troubled kids. Not a "boot camp" or anything, more "Outward bound". These and things like the DARE programe in Ontario do troubled teens immense good, but are very unknown and, as such, severely underfunded.

    And showing a kid admitting to sexual abuse on TV is good in that it shows other kids (and parents) out there that talking about this is ok and a good thing. It shows victims they are not alone. All of this helps.

    Now, that being said, this is something that could maybe be a 2-hour W5 or Fifth Estate news doc. Or a series of educational specials on PBS or TVO (like 5 programmes maybe). But as a TV series? In the vien of Survivor and Big Brother xxx? Disgusting and total exploitive to make a buck. I'd rather look at the lump of shit.

    Oh and stageleft, the fall of the Roman Empire is far more attributable to the rise in Christianity and the use of lead pipes in the aquaducts than gladitorial games. I agree with you but because of our own rise in (fundementalist) Christianity and "lead pipes" (environmental decay).

    By Blogger Mike, at 1:13 PM  

  • I have to disagree Mike, and say that we don't disagree. Perhaps I was simply unclear. I meant to convey that it was the commercial nature and manner of what was taking place which made the show offensive. Not that we should never talk about things like child abuse on television.

    I doubt stageleft will see your comment so on his behalf I'll suggest that he was only offering the gladiatorial contests as a symptom of decline - not a cause.

    I personally always thought that Christianity helped the Roman empire survive longer than it otherwise would have, but I'm no Roman historian so that's not a strongly held view.

    By Blogger Declan, at 6:44 PM  

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