Commentary

Dr. Do-Nothing

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Oct. 24, 2005 

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They say that everything's clearer by light of day. Obviously "they" haven't watched enough daytime television.

No one is going to pretend that "Passions," "Days of Our Lives" or "Guiding Light" is serious entertainment with a social or artistic message. But it's not soaps that really concern me; they try to be trashy. They play one-up games of trashiness. There are awards for the trashiest soap.

In short, people don't model their lives after soap operas.

Dr. Phil, however, has become the apex of trashiness. He takes Middle America and validates its whining, "heals" problems that didn't even exist until he came along and basically gives his audience the thumbs-up to emulate soaps. He is a fake doctor for fake problems, but when people have real problems, all he can do is shrug his shoulders and send them to a real doctor.

Phil is a predator, and his guests are selfish. Normally, he just spouts off a mix of common sense and stupid clichés to people who know what he's going to say but really just want to be on TV. That alone doesn't matter when the guests are adults, and they make themselves look stupid of their own volition. But what bothers me most is when parents bring their young children on the show, or when Dr. Phil tricks drug addicts onto the show for an intervention.

While pretending to "heal" people and families, he embarrasses people who never sign on for it, all in the name of ratings. If the principle of the Hippocratic Oath is "first do no harm," the principle of the Philocratic Oath is "first lose no money."

Parents bring their young children onto the show for topics such as "Little Mean Girls" or "A Family in Crisis." In the quest for fame or attention, they forget the entire nation watches Dr. Phil, and their appearance is immortalized on the Web site and through reruns. If they think their kids are suffering now, imagine what happens when their kids' whole school finds out about their personal issues. It's like a parent asking her child's gynecologist to go to a school convocation and announce the kid has herpes.

How is a drug addict going to heal once 6.6 million people know about his problem? There's a chance potential bosses, coworkers and dates might all recognize him twenty years from now. By airing his "intervention" on air, Dr. Phil effectively increased his chance for relapse ten-fold.

The difference between Dr. Phil and other talk shows is that Dr. Phil has managed to convince people he has some sort of authority. Everyone knows Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake are veritable human circuses, but Dr. Phil claims to be a serious show. If he represents family values, then we should all stop reproducing immediately.

In short, the Dr. Phil mentality is turning the middle class into the whining class. For humanity's sake, I hope our generation will have enough common sense to turn off the television and rid the world of his terrible catchphrases and obnoxious guests.

 

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