Thursday, September 14, 2006

What did you expect, Hoover?

A family member was bragging at a recent family event that her daughter, a Hoover High student, was shown on the MTV show "Two-A-Days". I smiled. What I wanted to ask (but didn't) was, "What's the going rate for selling out your kid, these days?" These were high school students, meaning that parents had to sign release forms for MTV to film them. Imagine being a parent and being told that your child might be featured on an MTV show, reading the release, and then signing away your rights. I couldn't do it.

Now some are upset about how Hoover is being portrayed in the show. What on earth did they expect? Did they not read their release forms?

I can tell you exactly what's on a typical release form because I signed one when I tried out for American Idol. (That's another story, entirely.) The form includes a paragraph that states the following:

I understand that I may reveal, and other parties may reveal, information about me that is of a personal, private, embarrassing or unfavorable nature, which information may be factual and/or fictional. I further understand that my appearance, depiction and/or portrayal in the Program may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature which may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation. I acknowledge and agree that Producer shall have the right to (a) include any or all such information and appearances, depictions or portrayals in the Program as edited by Producer in its sole discretion, and (b) to broadcast and otherwise exploit the Program containing any or all such information and appearances, depictions or portrayals in any manner whatsoever in any and all media now known or hereafter devised, or for any other purpose, throughout the universe in perpetuity.
I almost didn't audition as a result of that statement, and I'm willing to bet that such statements are pretty well standard for these reality shows. What it says is this: Things can be made up and edited in such a way that it will cast you in a bad light. It doesn't even have to be true, and if you sign this form, you agree that we have every right to do it to you.

I'm guessing that nobody actually reads their release forms.

The standard response from Hoover parents to the horror that parents from other cities are expressing is that "they're just jealous" or that they are "Hoover haters." Nope. We're just plain horrified that someone would sign away their kid's rights just so that they could be on television. Let me explain, Hoover parents. You've just signed a form that allows a television producer that works for the same network that spawned "Jackass" to show your child on national television in whatever light he wishes, whether it's real or fictional. Great job! Excellent parenting! Did either of you even get paid for their likeness to be used?

The winning quote has to be that of Mayor Tony Petelos:

"The bottom line is, I'm proud of our football team," Petelos said. "Let's not forget they're the No. 1 team in the country."

Great job, Tony. I'm glad to know that your focus is on the important things in life.

MTV is a network that is out to make money. The truth is that the outrageous, the negative, the ugly, and the scandalous make great television. So if it takes a little edited video to make that happen, it should be expected. If you're willing to sell your soul for a little air time, you deserve what you get.

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