War, American Idol, the New “Kidney” Reality Show, and Markets for Attention

29 May 2007 at 10:11 am 5 comments

| 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.

Entry filed under: Ephemera, Former Guest Bloggers, Myths and Realities.

What Does “Zero Transaction Costs” Mean, Epistemically? O&M at the AoM

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Peter Klein  |  29 May 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Personally I like the American Idol format. How do you think we select our guest bloggers?

  • 2. Marcin Tustin  |  29 May 2007 at 12:49 pm

    American Idol, because if kidneys were more widely available, such a kidney show would be less compelling.

  • 3. REW  |  29 May 2007 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t watch the ill-named reality TV. All of this excess was predicted more than 15 years ago by Chuck Barris (once and future king of US game shows). He proposed that we will eventually see a show called “Greed”. A 9-year old boy and his dog are invited on stage. Three contestants bid to see who will take the least amount of money to shoot the dog in front of the boy. (Perhaps rounds of bidding could be alternated with songs…)

    This is only a half-step below televising the selection of organ recipients for the perverse amusement of an audience.

  • 4. jonfernquest  |  30 May 2007 at 5:29 am

    American Idol, because it doesn’t wreak of the colisseum and gladiators.

    Unless the voting audience can virtually have their hair turn grey as they pace up and down, thinking about the life or death decision they are making for a loved one. The idea is sick because no one will really be in touch with what these deaths really mean for the person or their family.

    The next thing you know they’ll be televising talent shows before Peoples Republic of China stadium executions, one by one they get shot, until the winner gets out of jail free.

  • 5. Jeff  |  30 May 2007 at 11:54 am

    I think this is great publicity for something worthwhile. I will not be at all surprised if through this TV show and the publicity around it, we will not only see an increase in kidney donations (we all have two, you know) but we will see others step forward to donate kidneys for the other contestants in this TV show.

    For me, I will delay my judgment to see how this unfolds.

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