Beliefnet
Last year, the Fox television network set new standards for tasteless, banal, and amoral programming with "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" On that program, 50 single women competed to be chosen as bride for an alleged multi-millionaire: Rick Rockwell.

I say "alleged" because it turned out that Rockwell's "fortune" was really a sham, just as was his nationally televised marriage to Darva Conger. Now, in "Temptation Island," its latest tasteless offering, Fox has set out to do for courtship what it did for the institution of marriage.

"Temptation Island" bears a superficial resemblance to other so-called "reality television" programs, like the "Survivor" series. In exchange for national exposure, participants agree to allow the producers to capture every waking moment--especially what Fox calls the "tantalizing" ones. Participants must "feel comfortable appearing on national television in a bathing suit and similar attire."

But what distinguishes "Temptation Island" from shows like "Survivor" is its premise. Not content to merely outlast each other, these contestants will actually try to seduce each other.

There will be four couples. Upon arrival at the island, the man and woman in each couple will be separated from one another. In fact, for the next two weeks, they'll have no contact with each other. What will they be doing? Well, as Fox puts it, they'll be playing "physical and relationship games" with a group of scantily clad singles.

Fox's definition of "games" means playing the field. Each partner will go out on a series of dates--including an all-nighter in a private cabin. But it's not really private, of course. If somebody succumbs to temptation, the audience will hear, if not see, what's happening.

Then, at the end of the two weeks, each person must decide whether to remain with the person they came with, or leave this person for someone they met on "Temptation Island." Mercifully, Fox has excluded married couples from what it calls a "test of a couple's loyalty." But it's small consolation.

You have to wonder what kind of people would agree to this arrangement; but the greater shame lies with Fox. In most respects, "Temptation Island" is pornography. Not because of its licentiousness--although that's a problem--but because of what it employs as the source of entertainment.

Just as "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" trivialized marriage for the audience's entertainment, "Temptation Island" trivializes courtship for the same purpose. It makes light of one of the most important promises we can make. The promise to be faithful and honor our commitments is turned into fodder for soap-opera dramatics: "Will she or won't she be true?"

Worse, it's voyeuristic. The TV audience is promised a glimpse of the most intimate moments of people's lives and their struggles with temptation. Even if these contestants don't value their dignity, the network and the audience certainly should. Where's the benefit in seeing another person rejected and humiliated on national TV?

After its "Millionaire" fiasco, Fox executives promised to clean up their act. Well, they haven't. And Christians need to let them know that their trivializing of important moral commitments is unacceptable. You can show that by reaching for the "off" button on your remote control and not buying the products of the sponsors.

For if "Temptation Island" is successful, I shudder to think what's next.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus