Comments: "Freedom from Humiliation Is Never to Be Made Contingent on Any Norm of Conduct"

Any of you remember that guy William Hung a few years ago? Boy that guy sure knew how to make his humiliation work for him...

It's sad, but hear me out here.

The real problem of American Idol, much more insidious than the humiliation alone, is the kind of unrealistic expectations of themselves it creates for people. Everyone thinks that they're gonna be overnight stars, and have their own success story, but of course that's a fairy tale sold to the public. Truth is few people are really that GOOD at ANYTHING, and that most people are neither too talented nor too hardworking. Learning that is part of coping with life.

Posted by En Ming Hee at November 13, 2008 10:16 PM

I'd like to think that Paula Goodspeed has people who will mourn her passing.

Simon Cowell may not be so fortunate.

Posted by Glenn Condell at November 13, 2008 10:27 PM

Being humiliated is the worst thing that can happen to an individual ( including children ).

Mahatma Gandhi
(1869 - 1948)
It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings.
The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.
- Mahatma Gandhi in Non-Violence in Peace and War, Vol. 2, 1948.

It is not just TV shows where people are humiliated and stripped of their dignity.

It is humiliating for person who has worked all her/his life and has then no job and has to go to a soup kitchen for a meal.

It must be humiliating for a homeless person standing at an intersection and asking for money for a meal.

What kind of society we have built where our priorities are so lopsided? Instant success, instant fame and celebrity staus and loads of money count for more ( and if one does not achieve it, one is made to feel and feels humiliated ) than building a just society and sharing with and caring for the have nots?

Posted by Rupa Shah at November 13, 2008 11:17 PM

Rupa Shah: Yes it IS humiliating to "work a sign" on some corner, but then, its painful to be hungry, frighting to be stranded.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 14, 2008 11:00 AM

The people who create these shows are indeed loathesome, but what really throws me into despair is that the shows wouldn't exist if many, many people didn't watch them. What's their excuse?

Posted by catherine at November 14, 2008 11:51 AM

Mike Meyer: I agree with you completely and desperate situations put individuals in humiliating position and I am not blaming the individual. I am blaming the society in which we live, where these conditions exist. Where is the so called SAFETY NET which is supposed to take care of them?

As regards creating TV shows, I hardly ever watch TV except PBS and C-SPAN. If anyone knows of a show ( or shows ) which has a theme of teaching "Social Responsibilty" and "What is Good for Community is Good for Me", I would like to know. When that is done for mass audiences, societal priorities will change and we will have a better country for all because I do believe in basic decency of every individual.

Posted by Rupa Shah at November 14, 2008 12:27 PM

The proliferation of this kind of dreck is sickening. Shows like The Weakest Link, Big Brother, Dragon's Den, and many others, are all derived from the lifeboat scenario: There are n people on a lifeboat, and there's only enough food for m; we now get to decide which people to throw overboard.

When I was in school (I forget which year), the teacher actually engaged in this exercise, splitting us into groups, and then having each of us have to try to justify to the other members of our group why it was — which valuable qualities or abilities we possessed — that we thought earned us the right to be allowed to survive. The exercise stopped short of the final vote, but by that time it was clear which member of each group was going to be tossed (yeah, I was the lucky guy).

Basically, it's social Darwinism turned into entertainment. Perhaps a fitting pastime for a neoliberal, capitalist society which values only that which can be measured in dollars, and only those individuals who are somehow 'worth' something — as though each person did not have an innate worth. These shows, and the vermin who produce them, are designed to convince the population that survival in the world is not a communal activity, but a ruthless individual one, in which only the toughest, sneakiest, meanest, bastards make it, and then only by crushing the people beneath them on their way to the top.

It's capitalist pornography.

(Actually, I like pornography, but of a more social nature.)

Posted by Mike at November 14, 2008 12:43 PM

And speaking of Simon Cowell, he was on Top Gear awhile back. Having that grinning, swaggering, alpha-male gobshite on the same stage made Jeremy Clarkson actually seem a likeable human being.

Posted by Mike at November 14, 2008 12:48 PM

Rupa Shah: Welfare depts are supposed to be a safety net supplied by society to help such folks.
I saw 2 women with 3 children across from the local Walmart running a sign that said "Stranded, out of gas need help". Although there was heavy traffic, they were not having much luck as I watched in a restaurant across the street. Many poor transient people run signs there but NEVER do they get harrassed by the police, but for these ladies the police showed up and a social worker (I assume)a woman not in uniform in a state car. The next day I saw the women and their car and the sign but no kids. Again I assume, that welfare took the kids.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 14, 2008 06:58 PM

Mike Meyer:
From your story, I guess, I can conclude, the children were taken away from their mothers ( presumably ) to be placed in Foster Homes. Also, may be the siblings would be separated. That is not my idea of a just society ( taking away children from a parent is a cruel thing to do ). Of course, ours is a capitalist society and 'SOCIALISM" is frowned upon or as in the last election, we saw, how, many felt threatened by just the mention of it but in a country like New Zealand, when a person does not have a job or adequate income, the govt provides enough assistance to the citizens so they have a roof over their head and they do not have to go hungry. Also, it provides healthcare. A rich country like ours can definitely do better than what it does for its citizens in need.

Posted by Rupa Shah at November 14, 2008 08:18 PM

Rupa Shah: Point IS I, myself, Mike Meyer, have stood on that SAME corner with a sign and NO police showed up, no welfare worker, ALL day long, in the heat, when I would have WELCOMED a little police harassment to liven up my busy, busy day.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 15, 2008 11:33 AM

Mike Meyer:
I am sorry, but I am having difficulty about the point you are trying to make. What I am saying is, you should not HAVE HAD TO stand with the sign ( i.e. some option should have been available to you as part of a govt policy ). And YES, as you had to, someone SHOULD HAVE COME to take care of you ( but did not ). Two wrong things happened which should not be acceptable by our society and plans to prevent them SHOULD BE part of planning by our govt ( I am a stong advocate of govt getting involved in taking care of citizens in need).

ps I am really sorry to read that you were faced with that situation. I love my adopted country but somethings about it, I do not understand at all.

Posted by Rupa Shah at November 15, 2008 12:49 PM

Rupa Shah: I don't use a Social Security Number=NO legal ID= NO social services=NO safety net= the sign got me 6 months worth of work painting houses=NO problem. Disclaimer: I am NOT a woman with 2 or 3 kids.
See how far U get without using an SS number, I did and STILL do.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 15, 2008 02:23 PM

I think others have pointed this out, but that Cowell douche is very obviously insecure about the size of his arms. He's always, always folding them in that way that teenage boys think makes their biceps look huge.

Posted by Doctorb at November 15, 2008 03:48 PM

Mike Meyer:
You are unique ( meant as a compliment!) and yours is a unique case. Unfortunately, everyone does not have the option of doing or can afford to do what you have chosen for yourself.

Posted by Rupa Shah at November 15, 2008 04:59 PM

Rupa Shah: Not to be disrespectful, combative or debative, but except those in DC proper or in Federal Protectorates, those that live in STATES have that opportunity and its LEGAL. It is only a matter of personal choice. I AM FREE and I know it. I knew it the moment I cast off my bonds. Social Security don't pay shit anyway, its just another TAX, that's all.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 15, 2008 07:34 PM

I sure as hell don't feel like I am just another number in the land I live in.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 15, 2008 07:38 PM

An excellent post on one of the many important society-related subjects that is never discussed.

Posted by mnuez at November 16, 2008 05:13 PM

The problem with neo-liberal positive rights such as the "rights" of freedom from humiliation or right to any comforts is this-- The best character traits in humanity come from the hardships you decry. The positive characters of the generation that has to struggle is never evident in their children who were won the "right" to not struggle.

Now I can hear you arguments Bernard. But if you raise children to be "soft", to live without a struggle or hardship, humiliation or pain, you do nothing more than raise livestock for the exploiters who will always be there. It's one thing to teach people to avoid mistakes of the past, but quite another to prevent them from making their own mistakes.

That said, I hate few things in this world like television. (My mom likes the dancing one, maybe it's ok, football's more my thing)

Posted by tim at November 17, 2008 01:34 AM

The worst part of the whole story is how exactly this obviously untalented and delusional woman got in front of the "professional judges". I've been at those initial try-outs. The big time judges aren't there. The first 3 rounds (really) are in front of producers. They only will say yes or no to the person with no other comments. The producers pretty obviously knew the woman was unbalanced, as they ask the kinds of questions of the contestants that would quickly show that up. They purposely pick very untalented people to go through several rounds. Those untalented people begin to think, hey, I've made it though 3 rounds, I must be OK. Why do you think those people look so crushed when the judges destroy them? It's one of the most cruel things in the world to watch, knowing how the whole selection process really works. Simon Cowell should be sued by that poor woman's family.

Posted by InTheCity at November 17, 2008 09:11 AM