President Bush Proposes Constitutional Ban on Reality Television
Above: Give me liberty from reality shows, or give me death!
WASHINGTON, D.C. (SP) — Determined to make his mark on the domestic front prior to the November election, President Bush plans to introduce a radical new amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would bring a swift end to the pervasive pop culture phenomenon known as reality television.
"Television networks shall air no program involving groups of non-celebrities competing against each other for love, fame, fortune, or any combination thereof. Nor shall they air programs featuring marginal celebrities going about their daily routines in a desperate attempt to extend their 15 minutes of fame." So reads the text of Bush's proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Were it to come into force, this would become only the second constitutional amendment since 1971, as well as the second ever to restrict one's civil liberties, following Prohibition in 1919.
Many legal scholars have argued that this amendment is itself unconstitutional, insofar as it appears to directly contradict the freedom of expression enshrined in the First Amendment. However, the Bush administration has taken the position that the mass proliferation of reality shows in America has become a "clear and present danger", that constitutes a clearly defensible exception to the rights conferred by the First Amendment.
Satiric Press has managed to obtain an exclusive advance copy of the speech that Bush plans to deliver to a special joint session of Congress in support of his proposed constitutional amendment. The following is the text of that speech, presented in its entirety:
Above: First, President Bush declared war on terror. Now he's declared war on reality television.
My fellow Americans,
I stand before you at a critical moment in our nation's history. We have made great strides in the war on terror by invading Iraq, overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and bringing peace and freedom to the Iraqi people. Many members of the al Qaeda Terrorist Network have already been captured or killed, and we're right on the verge of digging up al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from his fox hole. Time and again, the United States has demonstrated that we have both the will and the firepower to rid the world of such evil-doers.
Above: America has managed to capture many of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants.
But now it is time that we take that same resolve and direct it at a new threat, one that is emanating from within our own borders and that has already done immeasurable harm and contributed mightily to the moral degradation of our society. The threat of which I speak is one of the most insidious forms of entertainment ever created: reality television.
Quick, inexpensive and easy to produce, reality shows (which I like to refer to as simply "ree") are clearly winning the war against more traditional sitcoms, dramas and news programs for the mind, the heart, and the very soul of every American.
There are many who probably think that ree is good, ree is right, and ree works, insofar as it cuts through, captures and clarifies the evolutionary spirit. But this is simply not the case. Ree is a weapon of mass destruction in our society in all of its forms, whether it be for love (The Bachelor), money (Survivor), or power (The Apprentice). That is why it is incumbent upon us to put an end to reality shows, before it's too late to save not only network television, but also that other malfunctioning network called the U.S. of A.
Above: If Bush's constitutional amendment receives legislative approval, he'll effectively be telling Donald Trump, 'You're fired!'.
Why do reality shows pose such a threat to our nation's well being? Because, as the eminent scholar Marshall McLuhan once said, "the medium is the message", so if reality television becomes the dominant medium in our society, the underlying message will be that we are all obsessed with utterly superficial attributes such as beauty, fame and fortune.
I should not be mistaken for speaking in disparaging terms about all forms of television programming. I actually think back with great fondness to television's golden age, an era that pre-dates reality TV, filled with shows that were both entertaining and educational, shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, Hee Haw and The Dukes of Hazzard. But reality shows are an entirely different matter. In order to fully understand the clear and present danger posed by this brand of television, it is necessary to consider a few specific examples.
Above: President Bush admits that he was profoundly influenced by classic television programs such as The Dukes of Hazzard.
First and foremost are the shows that undermine traditional family values by debasing or trivializing marriage. Shows such as The Littlest Groom, Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire, and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé make a total mockery of one of our society's most sacred institutions. The bride and groom are supposed to exchange vows that last until death does them part. In reality, the vows on these shows seem to last only so long as the cameras are still rolling or until the check clears, and sometimes not even that long. Therefore, in order to preserve the sanctity of marriage, we must put an immediate end to the deviant, unnatural unions that are being consummated on television.
Secondly, many of the most popular reality shows contain very disturbing and subversive political messages. For example, the producers of Fear Factor attract and manipulate audience members by preying upon their most basic insecurities. Such tactics are completely at odds with the philosophy of this administration. The war on terror is not about fear, but rather the bravery of the men and women in our armed forces who are fighting to reduce the overwhelming likelihood that there will be another terrorist attack on U.S. soil in the near future.
The lying, cheating and backstabbing that occurs on a show like Survivor is another poor example for those who already lack faith in the American political process. A dishonest politician is the rare exception on Capital Hill, but Survivor would have us believe that such attributes are essential to get ahead in the political realm.
There has also been talk that the producers of Survivor put pressure on some contestants to vote for or against particular individuals, in order to ensure that more popular cast members lasted longer on the show. These sorts of corrupt voting practices might exist in some third world banana republic, but I'd like to think that the electoral process in the United States has a bit more integrity to it than that.
Above: Is this a contestant from Survivor or an extra from The Lord of the Rings?
These shows also paint a very misleading picture about the state of the U.S. economy. For example, Donald Trump ends each episode of The Apprentice by firing one of his would-be protégés. Since the show debuted back in January, 11 of the 16 contestants have been fired. In no way does this staggering rate of unemployment reflect the number of jobs that my administration will have created when the trickle-down effect of my enormous tax cuts eventually starts to occur. Nor does it reflect the steadily increasing number of jobs that are moving overseas.
Finally, I am deeply troubled by the lack of positive role models on reality television. On shows such as The Osbournes, substance abuse is the rule rather than the exception. I don't care how long it's been since a person has been off the sauce or out of rehab, if they were once a drug addict or an alcoholic, they have no business appearing on television and being in a position to influence the impressionable minds of our nation's youth.
I'm equally offended by shows such as The Simple Life, featuring hotel heiress Paris Hilton and Lionel Ritchie's daughter Nicole. These two young women were born with silver spoons in their mouths, and have never had to work hard for anything in their lives. What kind of message does it send when a person is able to enjoy enormous fame, fortune and power without ever having done anything to deserve such status.
Above: President Bush can't stand people who merely ride the coattails of their famous parents.
For all of these reasons, I believe that it is of critical importance that we the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do hereby place an absolute prohibition on reality television, and entrench this prohibition in our Constitution.
Thank you ladies and gentleman. Good night and God Bless America.
Above: President Bush believes that reality television has led to the 'dumbing down' of American pop culture.