The grim reality behind "reality TV," part one

Starting in the 1990s with the daytime talk-show trash-fests like the Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones shows, the trend in programming featuring real people in stressful or extreme situations ties into our culture's every voyeuristic fantasy, no matter how common or perverse. But what's the cost of reality programming? Not in dollars (although networks and production studios save millions by using real people instead of hiring actors), but in terms of the "human cost?" Though I don't watch much reality TV, as a commentator on pop-culture trends, I've followed their progression from lowest-common-denominator trash-talk programs to situational/competition dramas like the Survivor series to matchmaking shows (like The Bachelor) and finally "extreme makeover" surgery shows. And through it all, I've often wondered: What happens to these people AFTER the show?

Apparently, life's not always roses for these folks after the cameras go dark. Recently, a contestant from TV's The Contender, a sit-comp boxing drama in which the winner gets a title shot, killed himself in his car a short time after being bested in the ring by one of the show's other hopefuls

And a few years ago (back in 1995), a male guest on the daytime trash-fest Jenny Jones Show tracked down and murdered a fellow guest who'd confessed on-air that he had a homosexual crush on the man. Though I didn't see the show myself, one account of it I read said the object of admiration went completely nuts as the studio audience hooted their ridicule at him. Of course, this doesn't justify murder, but I have to believe that being humiliated on national TV could've at least in part been what pushed the guy over the edge. Can you imagine what people in his family - and even strangers on the street who'd seen the show - must have been saying to him in the 3 days between the episode's airing and the murder? Currently, he's doing 20 years hard time for the crime

Here's my point in talking about all this: I'm trying to call attention to the fact that our culture has decayed to the point where not only is the TV killing us slowly by rotting our brains and fattening our bodies - but we're literally living and dying by what's on the tube. In the next Daily Dose, I'll tell you about another disturbing case in point that might make you want to never turn on the tube again.

Want fries with your disorder?

It has been postulated before that they're putting addictive chemicals in fast food. I didn't believe it, but now I'm not so sure. Here's why:

A Pennsylvania man became so enraged when his local Burger King restaurant ran out of French fries that he flipped out and ended up in jail. According to the Associated Press, the man became so irate when the drive-thru clerk informed him of the shortage that he parked his truck and entered the restaurant to cuss out the staff. But that's not all

After saying his peace (but obviously not making it), he gunned his truck and nearly ran over one of the Burger King staffers who followed him outside to take down his license number! As if that weren't enough of a reaction, he then scuffled with police and kicked out the rear window of the squad car after being pulled over a short distance from the restaurant.

Needless to say, the man ended up in the klink to cool off and figure out how he was going to raise $2,500 bail after being charged with assault, reckless endangerment, and other crimes. Talk about going off the deep fried deep end!