I watched the first episode along with the rest of my family. The idea seemed intriguing. A guinea pig willingly gets hooked up to a lie detector so he has to reveal embarassing things about himself just to try and win a million bucks. Now, that's television!
So we tuned into the debut of The Moment of Truth to watch the fun. But the funny thing is, it wasn't especially fun. It was more like driving by an accident along the highway and straining my neck to see the dented sheet metal and blood-soaked windshield.
The premise is fairly simple. Contestants are hooked up and asked questions that they have previously answered. If they don't set off the lie detector, they win cash and the audience applauds. It starts simple, like asking the pro athlete if he thinks he's better looking than his friends or if he's peeked at other men in the shower room. Embarassing, but hardly fascinating.
Eventually the stakes are raised. "Have you ever touched a female client inappropriately since you've been married?" "Do you really care about the starving children in Africa?" "Have you ever gambled away one of your children's college fund?" These questions are asked in front of the contestant's spouse, friends and parents to heighten the tension, not to mention the pain.
From what I've heard, last week's show featured a blonde lady who was bound and determined to win that cash, no matter the consequences. By the end of the hour she revealed that she had stolen money from work, she had been sexually unfaithful to her husband and that she thought she should have been married to her former boyfriend. Amazingly after each revelation and confirmation by the lie detector, the studio audience clapped, celebrating the woman's theft, unfaithfulness and all-around poor character. And with every answer, the woman's husband buried his face deeper and deeper into his hands.
Promos for this week's show promise a contestant having a nervous breakdown on-camera from the pressure of revealing the "truth" in front of her family. Just keep telling yourself, "It's entertainment. It's entertainment."
Why would someone put themselves through all this? Better still, why would someone put their loved ones through something like this? Money? Maybe. But I'm thinking these people are looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Attention. That's the name of the game. It's the same reason that Jerry Springer was able to find guests all those years. People crave attention. Even being known as "that chick who embarassed her husband and ruined her marriage" is better than not being known at all.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, whenever I try to think of the title of the show, "The Moment of Truth" I always think of "The Biggest Loser." Nobody is losing any weight on "The Moment of Truth." Perhaps it's my age and the effects of acquiring an addled mind. Or perhaps subconsciously I associate these attention-seeking attention with losers.
My wife has an almost-violent reaction to "The Moment of Truth." She often says that no amount of money is worth the damage some of these people cause by revealing their secrets on television. I understand that point of view, although I also wonder why people need to keep the secrets or harbor feelings that would hurt others in the first place. But to purposely expose and embarass a wife or husband or parent or anyone is beyond appropriate. Maybe these folks are the biggest losers.
But I remember how I felt after I watched that one episode. Maybe it's not the contestants on "The Moment of Truth" that are the biggest losers.
"Lord help me from judging others unfairly, especially when my own behavior is less than what you want from me on far too many occasions. Let me not revel in the pains of others or take cheap enjoyment in the presentation of hurtful behavior."