The Culture of Talk Shows Essay

1092 Words5 Pages
The Culture of Talk Shows If social order is not a given, if it is not encoded in our DNA, then to some extent we are always in the process of producing "virtual realities," some more functional than others.

Habits, routines, and institutions are the patterns that create the "world taken for granted." Knowledge of how to behave is contained in cultural scripts that are themselves products of human interaction and communication about the nature of "reality." Shame, guilt, embarrassment are controlling feelings that arise from "speaking the unspeakable" and from violating cultural taboos. Society is a result of its boundaries,of what it will and won't allow.

As we watch, listen, and are entertained, TV
…show more content…
Rather than being mortified, ashamed, or trying to hide their stigma, "guests" willingly and eagerly discuss their child molesting, sexual quirks, and criminal records in an effort to seek "understanding" for their particular disease.

Yet these people remain caricatures, plucked out of the context of their real lives, unimportant except for their entertaining problem. (In real life someone might question the benefits of publicly confessing to people who really don't care about you or don't have the expertise to give advice. Exploitation, voyeurism, peeping Toms, freak shows all come to mind.)

The central distortion that these shows propound is that they give useful therapy to guests and useful advice to the audience. And that they are not primarily designed to extract the most riveting and most entertaining emotional displays from participants. This leads to such self-serving and silly speeches by hosts as: "I ask this question not to pry in your business but to educate parents in our audience" (Oprah, trying to get graphic details from a female guest who claims to have been sodomized by her father) and "Do I understand, Lisa, that intercourse began with your dad at age 12, and oral sex between 5 and 12? Do I understand that you were beaten before and after the sexual encounters? (Phil, reading from prepared notes, to a crying teenager).

The audience at various
Get Access