War, American Idol, the New “Kidney” Reality Show, and Markets for Attention
| Chihmao Hsieh |
I read two news articles today. One of them describes Cindy Sheehan’s decision to give up her anti-war protest, where she exclaims that Americans live in “a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months.” (For those of you who don’t watch any TV, American Idol is the American version of that popular season-long show where 15-20 contestants sing and compete for a record contract, voted upon via SMS text messaging by TV viewers like you and me.) The other news article describes the newest reality TV program in the Netherlands, where a patient with an inoperable brain tumor is donating her kidney and choosing the beneficiary based on televised interviews of three contestants, in a manner apparently reminiscent of a game show format.
How I described the latter article may not make you furl your eyebrows, but listen to this: TV viewers will vote via SMS text messaging who gets to receive the kidney.
Likely many types of societal issues are raised by the juxtaposition of these two news articles. One of the likely-provocative questions I have for the readership: Would you prefer to associate with a world that promotes “American Idol” or a world that promotes this new kidney donation game show?
UPDATE: The kidney reality show was all apparently an elaborate hoax.