Idol Chatter

MomentofTruthLauren.jpgStephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness,” and now I would like to expand the lexicon with my own truth-based contribution, “truthlessness.” What is truthlessness, you ask? Well, it’s just what it sounds like, truth coupled with ruthlessness, the finest exemplar of which could be seen on last night’s “Moment of Truth.”
Lauren, a 26 year-old aspiring model (according to the message boards), was in the hot seat. Joining her on stage was her husband Frank, a dark-haired Ryan-Phillipe look-alike, her father, mother, and two friends. Now, this is no normal episode; oh no faithful viewers, this is the episode touted for the past week as the one that will end a marriage! So, naturally, I had to watch.
Lauren, who stated that her family “might not like her answers, but they will eventually appreciate them,” [read: money] was asked many probing questions about her marriage to Frank, a policeman. “Has she ever gone out with her friends and taken of her wedding ring to appear single?” “Yes,” she responds truthfully. Frank responds that she must have her reasons and that they’ll “discuss them later.” I’m sure they will.
As she passes $100,000 and heads for the big money, host Mark Walberg, no stranger to tawdriness having hosted “Temptation Island,” seems genuinely upset. He constantly rubs his furrowed brow and hits the arm of his chair while telling her that she might want to reconsider continuing play since the next question is even worse. But, Lauren plows ahead and runs smack dab into her ex-boyfriend—also named Frank—asking her whether she would leave her husband if he wanted to get back together with her.

Friend Monica hits the big red button to stop Lauren from answering the question, which means they move on to another question. At this point Walberg almost chastises the audience for rooting on Lauren to answer more questions. “This is real,” he says, seeming vexed that Lauren doesn’t have the sense to stop.
The next question is just as bad: “Were you in love with an ex-boyfriend on your wedding day?” “Yes,” she answers.
This, my dear readers, is truthlessness.
It’s now clear that Lauren is not some craven Jersey Girl willing to admit anything for money, but rather a woman trying to get out of her marriage in a really unkind way. She’s ruthless with the truth, hoping that the very public nature of her confession will somehow mitigate the fallout.
Note to Lauren, therapy is expensive and not always covered under certain health plans, but it takes a truly cruel human being to dump their hubby on national TV by admitting to infidelity. (It should be noted, however, that there are buzzings on the message boards claiming the whole thing was a set up. Although that had crossed my mind.)
At this point, husband Frank is telling her to just keep answering the questions— probably mentally counting the juicy divorce settlement he’ll get from her winnings.
Lauren loses all of those winnings on the very next question, “Do you think you’re a good person?” “Yes,” she says. Apparently, deep down inside she doesn’t, but because she came on the show instead of going to therapy, she hasn’t been able to admit that to herself. For a split moment, I felt sorry for Lauren. Maybe all of her admitted foibles were brought on by insecurity. She obviously wasn’t secure enough in her senses to do the sensible thing and talk directly with her husband.
Admittedly, I’m as curious as the next person when it comes to bad reality TV (although I have managed to avoid all seasons of “Big Brother”), but I wanted to see if this much-hyped episode could help me decide if the show was morally bankrupt and truly reprehensible.
I find that I still can’t easily condemn the show. Fox is merely providing a forum for people who cannot exercise self-restraint. I’m sure the network must legally be obliged to do some form of psychological screening before the show, so it can’t just be that these people are truly pathological. They know what they are signing up for and must feel the self-promotion is worth any cost.
Maybe FOX could class the show up a bit by inviting the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates to sit in that snappy red, leather chair and take on the polygraph. Heck, we might get past all the talking points and to the real truthiness, as Colbert might say. Say goodbye to tedious debates!
But, perhaps Mark Walberg put it best in his post-mortem when he said, “I honestly believe there are some truths that are better left untold.” It’s true Mark, but then you would be out of a job and America would just return to ‘The Jerry Springer Show”—the birthplace of truthiness.

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