Over the past few weeks there’s been an internet furor over a reality television personality who expressed his religious beliefs in a magazine interview, offending a lot of people. He was quickly suspended from his show by network executives as a knee-jerk public relations move, only to be reinstated a week later after an outcry from his fans.
I don’t mention the name of the show because if you don’t watch it, it’s really isn’t even a blip on your daily radar. But I mention it here because there was a definite corporate element that influenced these events; and to note how ridiculous the public outcry— on BOTH sides— was and is.
Remember: that whole show (like 95% of so-called Reality Television, even the supposed “game” shows)— is absolutely artificial, planned in advance, and essentially scripted. The people who star in it don’t really dress that way when they aren’t filming it, and they probably don’t act that way when the cameras aren’t running.
Does that mean you can’t enjoy it? Nope. I myself occasionally tune in to the Cartoon Network, but I never make the mistake of believing that what I see depicted there has any real connection with the actual world in which we live.
Most importantly, that TV personality wasn’t suspended for “exercising his right to free speech” as some contend; he was suspended for potentially damaging the brand of a highly lucrative television property. Period.
It has nothing to do with “Freedom of Speech,” because obviously the guy was quite free to say whatever he wanted to say in that interview. Nobody is trying to tell him he can’t say or believe anything he wants. But the people who pay him to appear in their television program felt it necessary to take action because his off-screen behavior threatened to damage their product brand. People who work in the media get dropped from their contracts or cut by their representation over PR issues— brand or image damage— all the time.
Believe me: that guy can say anything he wants to say, to anyone, no matter how offensive some people might find it, but if it has enough popular support that it threatens no potential revenue loss, the network doesn’t care. It’s only a problem if it might cost the show some ratings, IF there’s a prominent-enough backlash to inspire a boycott. Which apparently there wasn’t.
The fact that the comments made were religious in origin has something do with the hyperbole surrounding the incident, but only because whenever one bloc of voters on either side of the great political divide decides to champion a particular cultural “thing”— film, TV show, musician, or whatever— you can expect those on the opposite side of the divide to eventually take notice and vilify it in their media. But apart from that, the particular personal religious beliefs of the stars of some TV show, no matter how out-of-context (or IN context) they might be portrayed (to salacious effect) by the infotainment media— shouldn’t really be a problem. No laws were violated and opinions are simply that. The entire incident may even turn out to be a massive publicity stunt.
The REAL problem I see is that while the entire internet was screaming itself hoarse over the particulars of some TV personality’s personal belief system, the NDAA was fast-tracked through Congress by the current Administration and snuck into law— “indefinite detentions” and various other Constitutional rules-bending shenanigans safely intact and supported within it— and NARY A PEEP WAS HEARD.
We seem to be turning into nation of dumbasses.