A good friend and I were recently discussing what would make for the most exploitative reality television program. We cycled through recovering drug addicts, quadriplegic veterans, and the corpses of stillborn children, and yet despite our best efforts, Oprah has outclassed us in every way imaginable.
How foolish we were, thinking that the way to make the show offensive was to pit undeserving and underprivileged classes of human against one another. As Oprah's new reality show The Big Give proves, what it really takes to exploit these people is to pit people trying to help them against one another.
See, in our version, at least the dead fetus has a chance of winning fabulous prizes through his or her own merit. In Oprah's show, teams of Givers compete against one another to bring in money for people in need. That means that if you're a quadriplegic veteran, you get to watch helplessly while a team of morons infight, bicker, connive, and generally treat your welfare as a game. Which, if you're an Iraq War veteran, you're probably used to by now.
Plus, by turning the whole thing into a television show, she encourages corporations to line up spontaneous chartable donations ahead of time, so as to get themselves prominently featured on the show as Big Givers. Paying large sums of money to get your brand on a television show? Why, it's hardly even charity at all! Huzzah!
But perhaps the worst of it all is that if this thing works like all the other reality TV shows I've seen, the viewers at home are going to pick favorite teams to root for each episode. It brings it one step closer to a sporting event, which is infinitely more bearable. Except that in this case, it means that millions of people will be sitting in their living rooms willing your team to fail to provide for you.
Oprah, if I wore a hat, it would be off. Your ability to cheapen the act of helping the less fortunate really makes me feel better about the very little I do to improve the world. If you see Bono, tell him thanks too.
When not blogging for Cracked, Michael makes reality TV as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!