Work/Life: Fox TV’s “Moment of Truth”–Destroying Lives, One Lie-Detector Test at a Time



  • If you haven’t seen the new Fox (surprise!) reality/gameshow “Moment of Truth,” let me assure you that it may be the program thatfinally makes good on television’s promise to herald the end ofcivilization.  Of course, thecontestants and the viewers are complicit in the destruction of all that isgood; my only feeble defense is that I found out about my subject this week bytrolling the Internet, and not by actually watching the show.   Like I said, it’s a feebledefense. 
  • At any rate, the idea of the show is that you can win moneyby passing a lie-detector test—the gimmick is that you are being tested on alot of deeply personal questions. And this week, a woman admitted to stealing from work, being in lovewith someone other than her husband on the day they were married, and cheatingon her husband, too.  For this, sheearned a hundred grand.  And, getthis, she lost it on a final question in which she said she thought she wasbasically a good person…and was found to be lying!
  • Of course, the most upsetting aspect of her confession isstealing from work.
  • If, indeed, we can define certain television shows as“pastimes,” it implies, does it not, that they are our leisure activities?  That this is part of what we are doingto relax when we are not working? Many people would number such activities as watching TV with their lovedones as part of their scheduling of quality down time.  So what happens when television itselfsets out to erode the “life” part of our work/life, and pay us for ourtrouble?   The question is arhetorical one. What we need is a “Moment of Truth” for the people who getpaid to come up with ideas like this. Put them in the hot seat and have them answer the following questions:
  1.  Do you lose any sleep at night knowing you are appealingto the most repulsive, puerile aspects of human nature?
  2. Can members of your family embrace you without having toshower afterwards?
  3. If this horrific premise of a TV show ends up being allyou will ever be remembered for, could you still look at yourself in the mirrorbefore you die?
  •  Sure, they’ll win a hundred thousand dollars, but they’llhave to live with the consequences, just like that woman who ruined her lifefor millions of viewers to see. Interestingly, “Moment of Truth” is hosted by Mark L. Wahlberg, who,prior to this, was known for hosting the gentle, down-home PBS program“Antiques Roadshow.”  How he wentfrom Pleasantville to destroying relationships on national TV is a moment oftruth question in itself. 
  • Oh, well.  Itcan always be argued that even by letting off steam about trash TV I am givingit the publicity it wants.  Or that I am perversely intrigued by it, just like they want me tobe.  But it seems to me there is aline that needs crossing between feeding the machine and trying to get adialogue going about how the machine needs a serious tune-up.  What do you think?