Debate of the Day: What Show Do You Think is Hurting America?

For this question I’m posing this morning, I’m not speaking of shows you think are inherently bad and should be kicked off the air just because they suck. No, I mean shows that are literally harming the fabric of our society by existing. I don’t think many programs fall into that category, but as you can see above, I have one that comes to mind immediately.

I’ve caught a few episodes of Man vs. Food in the past, and watched a few this weekend and it’s hard not to be absolutely disgusted by it. Not just by thinking about how awful it would be to have that much food inside me, but to think about how many starving people there are in the world and we have a SHOW dedicated solely to the deadly sin of gluttony. It’s insane, in horrible taste, and reinforces the view around the world that Americans are a bunch of lazy, overweight food vacuums.

Other examples of shows making America look bad? I would argue any of the Real Housewives installments, and a show like Jersey Shore. Somehow that show has spread like a virus, and now people think all Americans are tan, musclebound and idiotic, when that’s only a tiny fraction of us.

What other shows would you add to this category?

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  1. Dancing/Singing shows, because it’s not really about talent, but becoming celebrities, also the “voting and judging” is redundant because so much of music/dancing is subjective.

  2. I would say most of the programming on MTV. From Jersey Shore to Teen Mom. When I tell people I dislike Teen Mom for the message it sends people give me the look and say, “It shows girls how hard it is to have a baby at that age.” My response is that it does not. It shows girls that if they have a baby at that age, they may be able to get their own TV show for making a poor decision and they may become famous.

  3. I stopped watching tv over three years ago if that says anything….

    Aside from what has already been said, I think that professional wrestling is harmful to young children, who are now wwe’s prime advertising target. I’m not saying this because of the violence, or even the diva’s boobs.

    I think it is harmful because it presents an unrealistic expectation of what a physically fit, healthy person should look like. My favorite wrestler growing up was always Mick Foley. He was great on the mic, a legitimately tough contender (hell in a cell anyone?) and he wasn’t a roided up, hyper-fit guy. But he was never the 400 pound samoan either. His body type was the perfect example of how someone could be a little heavier, but still fit. Today, all the wrestlers are chiseled masses of muscle.

    tl;dr my manorexia/body image issues are wwe’s fault.

  4. Toddlers and Tiaras, I watched one episode of that horrible show and was creeped out beyond belief. From the competitions with weird pedophilia undertones to the emotionally abusive parents, that show and the people in it are disgusting on so many levels.

  5. I don’t watch any of the aforementioned shows but I guess most “cheap” reality shows that promoted laziness can’t be good.

    Whatever shows made these zombie bimbos Heidi Montag and her sidekick probably will harm the impressions of foreigners towards US-Americans.

  6. None.

    People who can’t take responsibility for their own actions and instead blame a show for whatever they do are stupid enough to be influenced by anything. The country of origin is irrelevant. Remember, American Idol was based on a foreign show.

    If people want to judge America based on its programing, they’re pretty shallow and ignorant.

  7. Too many to list…

    I think just about all of MTV is horrible… 16 and Pregnant and all of those teen moms are just about the worst thing to happen to tv ..ever.

    Man vs Food is disgusting. Toddlers in Tiaras is another great example of abhorrent television.

    The singing shows are bad, but I don’t feel they are detrimental to us as a society.. maybe the music industry, but big business/labels ruined that many years ago.

  8. Hello Paul. I think americans have a culture of overconsumption in general, not only food. My opinion is that it’s part of the culture, part of the society.

    By shutting down a show like Man vs. Food is not gonna stop all those food joints from making mega super size hamburgers and hot dogs.

    I also think yours it’s a great article since it opens a good debate of cultural self-analysis.

    (I’m not USA born btw)

  9. @Tim
    Don’t get me wrong I can not stand shows like that but actually teenagers are actually getting pregnant less than a few years ago and some are attributing it to shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant”. According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, they say it helps teenagers understand how hard it is to have a child while still a teenager.

  10. Don’t watch television, but the outset of this article strikes me as censorship. Like I’m supposed to be screaming “Someone think of the children!” or something.

  11. Virtually all reality TV is hurting us. It is teaching our culture that if you act irresponsibly, selfishly, and like the trashiest person you can, you will be rewarded with fame and riches.

  12. I agree that just about all reality shows are equally bad, be it gluttony (man vs. food) or lust (take your pic of any sex-related show). Though I gotta say, that pic of him at that diner in downtown NY makes me hungry. Just not hungry enough to go there and spend 15 dollars on a sandwich lol.

    Anyway, I’ve been saying for years now that reality tv has become a beast that cannot be fed (no pun intended with the aforementioned pic). Inow believe that in the next 10-20 years, once the networks start REALLY knowing how to handle internet sites like youtube and such, EVERYONE will be a reailty star. And I mean every single person that chooses to take video of themselves. There will still be actors, but the term reailty “star” won’t apply anymore because it’ll apply to everyone.

    The only good news about that is, maybe in 30-40 years we’ll all be so sick and tired of everyone we’ll all finally kill ourselves.

  13. @ Madison, you’re still alive!!

    I agree with you, I also don’t think these shows really influence America. People who think teen moms, jersey shore or toddlers and tiaras are role models are already lost.

  14. Madison nailed it. Stop blaming TV. Might was well start talking about rap music and Grand Theft Auto while you’re at it. Censorship is censorship, even if it starts out as a “discussion” about what makes it “harmful.” That’s what we call pre-pitchfork talk.

    More importantly, I can’t stand the self-loathing stench this article reeks of. I’m American by choice as of 2003, but I’m from another country. I’m from the West AND the East. I’ve visited many nations, spent time with real people in those places (not just being a tourist), and I am truly sick of self-defeatist Americans saying that “the whole world hates Americans because we appear to be rude, fat, disgusting, over-consuming pigs who don’t give a damn about their problems.” Excuse the para-phrasing, but that’s the general argument that’s being presented as fact here before we even get into a discussion about which TV shows are “making America look bad.”

    Paul, not all people in other countries hate America: people flock here in DROVES, and they work hard to make a damn good living. Know why? They KNOW America is the land of “having it all” – maybe that’s gluttonous, but it’s not a deadly sin unless you are a Bible-thumper, and even then, most people don’t think of gluttony as the worst thing ever. Most people work for that right, man! Paris Hilton has it easy, sure, but not everyone has everything handed to them. Give America some dues; more importantly, give foreigners a little credit for actually admiring us and aspiring to reach this wonderful land of opportunity. Ever seen a foreign bum in your city? I haven’t. I’m good friends with a fellow who works as an IBM technician from home all day while running a massive alpaca farm almost entirely by himself. This dude is from a goat-herding family in Uganda. He now drives a Hummer H2 with all the bells and whistles (including a grenade-shifter knob), and an ’89 Rolls Royce. I don’t hate him for that – not at all. He’s got toys and money, and he spends it how he wants because he earned the right to. He’s at the pub enjoying Guinness in his custom chalice every other night. I respect this guy because he’s smart, fun to talk to, and he works hard. He doesn’t understand your point of view because WANTING things and being a little gluttonous is a joy he’s EARNED. He’s not silver-spooned, Jersey Shore trash (yeah, they seem trashy, but Why would anyone think these meatheads represent “all Americans?”). He doesn’t spend time watching trash TV becuase he’s He’s a hard working mamajama, and he’ll let you know what he thinks of lazy-ass people if you ask him. In general, a bum is not someone with a sad story; he or she can and should work to better themselves. If someone from Uganda can save for one flight to the U.S. and become wealthy in as little as 7 years, any American can do the same.

    I know this article is about TV but, as I’ve posted elsewhere, any info presented in a no-duh fashion makes it seem like truth, especially rhetoric like “America sucks compared to other countries.” Just coz some people don’t like America doesn’t mean you should stop liking it. Quit being embarrassed. I love Man v Food, and if I was a starving person (I was, once), I’d watch that and I wouldn’t think “What an asshole! Look at all that food! Why don’t they send some here?” I’d give my left nut to be able to go to that place and eat with that dude, eat so much that my stomach hurt, but in a good way for once. Get off your pedestal, Paul, and all you folks who think America looks bad to other people. Shut up, and look around. Nothing’s perfect, but we strive for better when other nations let their people starve to death. We adopt kids from other countries when we got homeless kids right here; is that wrong? I don’t know, but I do know that some kid who didn’t have a home or a family has one now, so that can’t be bad. This nation has sent out more food, money, medicine and aid to more countries than any other nations combined.

    In closing, yeah, some of the shows mentioned – especially the MTV shows – just suck, and it’s about becoming some type of reality celebrity, blah blah blah… but I choose not to watch that shit. I watch some good TV and probably some bad TV. It’s my right as an American, just as it is yours and others’ for making the shows in the first place. If people didn’t watch them, advert $$ would drop, and they’d get cancelled. It’s not the shows that make the people, Paul – it’s people that watch the shows and allow them to exist. But if everything on TV was “good wholesome programming,” what would be the point?

    Sorry for the tirade. Just knock that “Americans look fat and dumb” shit off, please. It’s 2011 – a lot of us know better now.

  15. Lmao. Not being American I don’t know what shows embarrass you lot. I’d say Fox News would be up there.

    I’ve seen more liberal news coverage at recordings of the Nuremberg rallies.

    As an Irishman I’d go with Father Ted for portraying the country as being in thrall to a racist, misyoginistic and infallible priesthood.

    Wait. That is the way Ireland is. Damn documentary trying to cover itself up as a comedy.

  16. Fox News – glad i’m not the only one that thinks that channel is hurting America.

    and to those who think Teen Mom / 16 and Pregnant are not hurting America obviously do not know about the young girls that are trying to get pregnant just to be on that show. disgusting.

    overall, though, i do believe that if you are dumb enough to be convinced of anything by television (or any media), then natural selection is taking its place and go for it.

  17. Ya know. There are a LOT of stupid shows out there, but we all know they can’t affect you if you don’t watch them.

    That said it’s pretty sad that so many of these shows have such a huge audience that they become successful. I mean, if people weren’t watching Jersey Shore, it’d be over by now. We shouldn’t want to watch mind-sapping idiocy, and we shouldn’t want to put it on television.

    That said, I think the worst TV show is Nancy Grace. She is a fear-mongering sensationalist who pounces on events that occur months ago, calling down brimstone and hellfire while the “expert” she brings in fails to get a single word in on the subject.

    Second worst? Jerry Springer-type shows. “Next time, on Maury: Boombalashaye Jenkins is back for the fifteenth time. Is Darnell her baby’s father? We have the paternity test results.”
    Then of course, the mother accuses the man of abandoning her, while stating (for the 15th time, mind you) that she’d not had sex with anyone else. Is he the father? Who gives a shit? She literally had to pull from at least 15 men she’d screwed around with, each time. A baby-daddy raffle.

    And if you think this example is an exaggeration, your wrong. I watched it out of sheer disbelief. You’d figure after the second or third try she’d be embarrassed with herself. “You don’t think they think I’m slutty or anything, do you Shaneynay?”

  18. I have to say the worst ones are Jersey Shore and other shows such as Bad Girls Club. All they do is show the younger crowd the all their is in life is booze and sex. Lets face it, only a handful of people actually monitor what their kids watch on tv or the internet. As a young adult I’m afraid to see what my generation transforms into. You have no idea how many people I have met or know that want to live the “jersey shore” life style. To me its sad and disgusting…..They make themselves look like fools. Overall it just shows the younger viewers that its ok to go out and party and get plastered and hook up with random people.

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