Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Repo Games: The Descent Continues

When future historians chronicle the downfall of western civilization, they will likely note the rise of popular entertainment genres which cynically exploited the least fortunate among us and appealed to our basest natures.  They will no doubt chronicle our descent into a culture that burned its food in its cars as it created an intellectually malnourished population of thrill seekers, whose sadly anemic idea of a thrill was watching someone squirm through life's embarrassing moments on shows like Repo Games.

Brought to us on Spike TV by the producers of Jersey Shore, Repo Games is just what you are afraid it is.  Real repo men jack up the car of someone who has gotten behind on their payments.  Then, with lights blaring and cameras rolling, they pound on the door of the unsuspecting contestant  victim and announce that their vehicle is being repossessed for non-payment.  But... and here is the real genius of the show... if the repossessee can answer three out of five trivia questions correctly, they can keep the car, and have it paid off in full.

Perhaps the most tragic moment of the show occurs when the victim, in close-up, is asked whether they want to play for a chance to keep their car.  Embarrassment, anger, and disorientation flash across the debtor's face as they weigh the merits of preserving their dignity versus their mobility.  We wish they would just slam the door, but poor people are often accustomed to sacrificing their dignity to survive, so enough choose to humuliate themselves that the show goes on.  Is this good TV?   Repo Games assures Spike's young, mostly-male audience that not only is it okay to take pleasure from the suffering of others, but it is also a lot of laughs!  Imagine the fun these guys will dream up when they're taking care of you in your nursing home.

While we wallow gleefully in the bleak, we try hard to stay on the far side of stupid.

That's as much as we can bring ourselves to say about this stain on human dignity.  You'll just have to watch it yourself to believe how low people will stoop to (in the producer's case) make a buck or to (in the viewer's case) get a thrill on.

No, Repo Games is not a sign of the impending apocalypse, but it may just be a good enough reason to bring one on.

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