Saturday, June 02, 2012

Secret Millionaire is EVIL propaganda

Version 0.2

Secret Millionaire is EVIL Propaganda

Just feeling morally obliged to at least briefly record my reactions to my first exposures to this this show. Actually, I'd heard of it a few times over the years, but never actually saw it until about two weeks ago, and then saw a few minutes of a second episode today. I then wandered over to Wikipedia and around the Internet a bit, but didn't even see any attempts to question the morality of this show.

Yes, it is emotional and I believe that the participants are sincere on most sides. However, the overall conception is so amazingly and obviously evil that it completely overwhelms every other aspect of the show. Why don't they just make a series of programs teaching poor people to gamble on the horses to reduce their suffering? That would be much more honest than this show. You can find plenty of other descriptions of what a lovely show it is, so I'm just going to present it in a rather bleak and cold-blooded way focusing on the evil side.

A rich person donates a few days of vacation time to visit a bunch of charities. One of the recurring themes of the shows (but remember that everything I'm saying is only based on watching parts of two episodes and reading some of the Wikipedia description) is that the millionaires are shocked by the poverty and even feel threatened by the dangerous neighborhoods. That's already a perfect tell for the utter falseness of the show. How much danger can you be in while you are surrounded by your very own film crew? If they want to be honest, they'd include a few pan shots of the crew, which probably includes as many security guards as necessary. That would be a touch of the awkward reality here.

Anyway, the rich person donates a few days to act all righteous. The money part is trivial to people of such wealth. Actually, I would start by asking whether or not they deducted the donations from their income taxes and continue by asking about any public relations value they received by appearing on television in such a favorable light. It's certainly not like they've reformed their lives and decided to donate the rest of their time and the bulk of their fortune to charity. I was actually being kind when I said I believe that they are sincere on the rich side, because the rich person could be lying about it and actually be showing a net profit on the deal while being coached on how to act. Given that the entire thing is canned, they can just burn the tapes if the rich person can't do the emotional part sufficiently well. The punchline here is that there might be some rich people who really are selflessly focused on helping, but whose tapes get burned because they just don't show their emotions so strongly for the camera.

On the side of the people running the charities, I think they are probably much more sincere. After all, they are not donating a few days, but have been involved in the work for some time, at least long enough to come to the attention of the producers of the show. However, from this side and considering the uses to which the video is being put, the important question is how the award decisions are being made. After they've had some experience making this show, I bet they've learned out how to avoid awkward moments that produce video like this: "Okay, thanks for the money. Now you've finished your puff piece about how holy you are, so get the hell out of here, go back to your stinking mansion, and let me get on with my work." According to Wikipedia, they've even followed up on some of the so-called winners, and I bet they don't show any videos where the prize money has caused the charity to collapse. (I saw "so-called" because this is fundamentally a situation where you win a few bucks by fighting a losing battle.) If I was a betting man, I'd bet that their selection criteria for the winners include how appreciative they will look and sound when they get the money--and even if the millionaire visited some much more worthy charities during the few days, that's just more video to burn.

Actually, that raises another important question that could be addressed by someone who has more stomach for this show than I do. (Obviously, I'm not planning to watch any more episodes.) How much of the show actually features non-winning charities? Maybe the entire game been rigged in advance? At this point, I can actually imagine the producers of the show visiting the target location in advance, picking the most suitable charities, and scheduling the entire thing even before the millionaire guest host arrives. In that case the winners are already known, and they are just playing around with which charity takes first, second, or third place.

The REAL point of this show is that there is no reason for large-scale efforts to reduce human suffering. You should just be quiet and wait for the millionaire to recognize your goodness, in this case in a cubic form by actively working to keep other people quiet in their suffering. Heaven forbid that the government should get involved in trying to improve the average of society! Perhaps this comic about the importance of considering the individual variance is the best illustration?

Lotteries are just taxes on people who are bad at math. Encouraging people to play the lottery is not a constructive solution to ANY real problem--unless you strongly believe in evolution and that it's just a great thing for the losers to die. Earlier, I asked the question "Why don't they just make a series of programs teaching poor people to gamble on the horses to reduce their suffering?" The answer is that most of them would only increase their suffering--and that's exactly the real purpose of this EVIL show.

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As a blogger from before there were blogs, I've concluded what I write is of little interest to the reading public. My current approach is to treat these blogs as notes, with the maturity indicated by the version number. If reader comments show interest, I will probably add some flesh to the skeletons...