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The Swan and sur-reality shows

August 10, 2006

I recently journaled my TV viewing for the Neilson ratings company. It was a pain in the rear and I’m sure I screwed the TV diary up a bit.

However, at the end of the booklet I was instructed to make any comments I wanted to about television. I was so excited. I finally had a way to do something about the reality show takeover I suffer each time I try to find something to watch during prime time!

It was quite satisfying to write that I hate most reality TV and to let them know exactly why. So satisfying in fact that I just have to share my opinion with our reading audience.

Of all the reality shows I have seen, the most appalling is The Swan. The show is a gruesome cross between, “Miss America,” “A Makeover Story” (which I admit, I actually enjoy, along with most of TLC) and “The Running Man.”

If I could glean a message from the barrage of oddity contained within The Swan it is this, “No matter a woman’s station — in life, or her level of personal achievement or happiness, a woman is incomplete if she isn’t considered beautiful by modern standards.”

If you are one of the incomplete and unbeautiful, have no fear, the Swan is here, and you too could be a contestant.

The Swan finds mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and business women and gives them makovers.

Surgical makovers.

The Swan arranged extensive plastic surgery for each woman. Then the producers helped the women throughout the healing process.

After the ladies had healed from their various scrapes, sucks, tucks, peels and implants they were given personal athletic training and grace lessons for four months.

I honestly don’t know what possessed me to continue watching the program beyond the first five minutes. I must have found it at least equally interesting and horrific, otherwise I would have turned the television off.

I imagine my fascination was somewhat akin to watching public torture in medieval days. It occurs to me that must be why people enjoy reality TV so much. They like to see other people’s suffering.

Our society has advanced immensely over the years, hasn’t it?

I digress, however. Back to the beauty at the end of the process of changing and “beautifying” these women, the women competed against each other in a “beauty” contest.

Which is truly brilliant in a sadistic sort of way. What better way to validate these women after telling them they need to be beautiful in order to be complete, than to send all but one of them home a loser because they still aren’t beautiful enough to win a contest.

Am I the only one who thinks this set up is an emotional bloodletting of the highest degree? Added, of course to the initial, physical bloodletting of the surgery!

The whole thing really highlighted the fact that when people strive for goals like beauty, fame, wealth, success and greatness they are essentially striving in vain because all of those goals are subjective and therefore unattainable.

No one can really be the most beautiful, even if they win a beauty contest. Any measure of fame, wealth, success, or greatness is ultimately faulty and undependable.

What useless goals!

Even the Bible says that beauty is fleeting! Doesn’t fleeting mean temporary and vanishing?

Or maybe the Bible doesn’t apply to non-essential surgical procedures.

(Please note the sarcasm.)

How about striving for something attainable? Like being a better person, or getting closer to friends and family, or learning something new.

Can you folks tell I’m upset?

I wish I could give the producers of The Swan a piece of my mind, I’d say, “I have an idea for an extreme makeover show. Makeover your heart!”

Then I’d probably throw in a, “you big jerky guys,” just for good measure.

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