Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bullying For Fun And Profit

I wonder whether it was purely a coincidence that an episode of "The Big Bang Theory" which deals with the issue of bullying aired recently on TBS right before the premiere of "Deal With It," a reality/game show which IS bullying. Could it possibly be that the scheduling was more than a coincidence, that an executive who had failed to prevent TBS from greenlighting "Deal With It" made sure that those two half-hours aired back-to-back, as a subtle form of protest?

In "The Speckerman Recurrence," the episode of "The Big Bang Theory" in question, Jimmy Speckerman (played by Lance Barber, a very nice guy irl, so I hear), who bullied Howard when they were in high school, unexpectedly shows up, and Howard decides to confront his former tormenter. In talking about the topic of bullying with Bernadette and Amy, Penny realizes that she was a bully in high school, whereas her two friends were both victims of bullying, and becomes sensitized to the issue.

All very well and good. And then we immediately cut to "Deal With It," in which celebrity bullies put hidden earpieces on civilian victims and get their rocks off by making them humiliate themselves and endanger close relationships for a chance at getting a check which, I'll just bet you anything, is smaller than any of the checks the celebrities get for the episode. The victims piss their pants, stick their fingers up their noses, try to kiss friends on the lips, pretend to flirt in front of their spouses, etc. The most satisfying victim, the one who goes along the farthest and the best with the bullies' orders, gets $5000. Oh what fun for the celebrities and the sadists at home.

It's disgusting.

I don't know anything at all about Howie Mandel, the executive producer of "Deal With It," and so the following is pure speculation and may be 100% wrong. But it seems to me that earlier in his career, as a stand-up comic and then on "St Elsewhere," Mandel was very vulnerable, a nerd, clearly someone who must have been inviting prey to bullies in school. And then suddenly, sometime before "Deal Or No Deal," Mandel butched up. The shaved head. The pirate earrings, yarrrr... The soul patch. And the 'tude, suddenly it was completely different too, and has remained so. Mandel suddenly looked and acted much more like a bully than a victim of bullying. It seems he's going to continue the cycle instead of, hey lookit that, dealing with it.

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