Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Extreme White House Makeover

As we've noted before, this administration is long past satire. In case you need fresh proof, check out this headline which, despite appearances, is not straight from The Onion: Laura Bush to appear on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
WASHINGTON — Facing criticism that he appeared disengaged from the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina, President Bush has been looking for opportunities to show his concern. But the White House will take the effort a step further Tuesday, venturing into untested waters by putting the nation's first lady on reality television.

Laura Bush will travel to storm-damaged Biloxi, Miss., to film a spot on the feel-good, wish-granting hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said.

In its standard format, the popular ABC series finds hard-pressed but deserving families, sends them away for short vacations and then, in a whirlwind of carpentry and appliance-shopping, gives them new homes. This time, though, the show will broadcast from an underserved shelter near Biloxi, where a convoy of trucks stocked with everything from mattresses to pants will arrive, courtesy of Sears, one of the show's sponsors.

It's not clear exactly what Mrs. Bush will do, but Tom Forman, executive producer and creator, said he is hoping that she'll just pitch in and help unload.

"I think we say, 'Mrs. Bush, the stuff is over here, the people are over there, could you grab the other end of that mattress?' " Forman said.
Wow. Suddenly, this photo makes a lot of sense.

I suppose this is meant as the domestic counterpart to Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo op on the aircraft carrier. Only this time, the banner will be a quote of that old George H. W. Bush chestnut, "Message: I Care."

I hope this becomes a new trend for the administration. I'd love to see Dick Cheney make an appearance on Fear Factor, though I suppose they'd have some real trouble finding something that the Dark Lord of the Sith was actually scared of. Still, it'd be fun to watch him eat a puppy.

Or maybe Bush and Cheney can reprise their legendary roles as Gilligan and the Skipper for The Real Gilligan's Island. Pops and Bar Bush can play the ditzy Howells, although they'd have to really slum it to pretend to be mere millionaires. Rumsfeld is perfect for the Professor, except his innocent coconut-powered radio would somehow kill thousands. Condi, with her incredible fashion sense, would be perfect as Ginger, while Laura makes an obvious Mary Jane. (Heck, they could even give Saddam Hussein a guest spot as the Japanese soldier who still thinks World War II is raging.) And every week, we'd get to watch Georgigan ruin the administration's efforts to get off the island. Perfect.

(Thanks to Digby for the tip.)


James said...

Extreme Makeover - Think about it.

Extreme Makeover, home edition, is an insidious show that attempts, for those of us in the priviledged masses, to pay our guilt money on our behalf. The show randomly selects some poor unfortunate soul, and proceeds to emotionally bully and blatantly exploit them all to give the viewer a feeling of satisfaction no more real than that attained by narcotics. Just like a hypnotist's subject, or a member of a congregation 'recieving the lord' in a fundamentalist church, it is actually the attentive and expectant gaze of the masses which dictates the emotional response of the man-of-the-moment. The ensuing rapture is expected, and always delivered. Who would fly in the face of an expectant crowd? Not you, not me.

The fact that the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on one family or individual, to appease our national guilt, to provide them with never-before-seen, sickeningly superfluous luxuries, could actually be better spent enabling MANY HUNDREDS of poor and undereducated human beings get a foothold in life, seems to completely escape the enraptured viewers and proponents of this show. Going around helping schools, helping the poor, just enough, no, that's not good television. There'd be no tear-streaked climax then, and we wouldn't be able to go away with an instantly-attained warm fuzzy feeling that somewhere, someone is making things right.

That the Bush administration is so keen to associate itself with this winner-takes-all lottery, in which anyone suitably unlucky, suitably sycophantic, and suitably television-worthy is a competitor, then it speaks volumes for the regard in which it holds the intelligence of the American People. I wish I were surprised...

Mr Furious said...

Yup. My wife watches the show and I'm usually in the room on the computer. This last week's episode in particular, exemplified what you are talking about.

(I gather) they went to a military base or town, selected this guy who lost his leg and then proceeded to blow a few hundred thou on his house. 600 hundred gallon salt water aquarium, flatscreen TVs all over the damn place, the whole nine hundred yards. Plus, the bank bought their mortgage...

The guy was embarrassed to be the benificiary of all this largess, and I don't blame him. He still lives on a street of military families with comparably nothing and has to face them. how many in his unit will need to come over to his personal gym to rehab their injuries...?

I know that in order to make the show compelling and touching, it has to follow a certain formula. Combine that with the money and input from sponsors cashing in on the whole home improvement TV craze, this scenario is almost unavoidable. But how much better could that budget been used to help the whole base and the families there? It wouldn't have had the same dramatic "reveal" at the end, but would have left a more lasting impact on the people that matter. and those people aren't the viewers.

Thrillhous said...

I hear ya, fellas. The show itself is pretty sickening, as are all of these home improvement shows.

I'm wondering if they'll make the family take the loyalty oath.