Just Push The Red
book came in the mail today: 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.
This would normally be of little consequence to my column, except for an
interesting entry. At number 69 was one Matt Kunitz. Best known for
executive producing Fear Factor. The author went on to detail
more than a dozen of the show’s signature second challenges: where the
contestants must either eat various nasty stuff, or be slathered in
vermin and other creatures. I guess that the point is that Mr. Kunitz
has somehow managed to take all of television down a peg with Fear
what, right? Fear Factor has been off the air for several years
now, hasn’t it? Well, yes, but many of the things that we most remember
Fear for live on in various shows. In fact, Solitary seems
to have taken a page from every competitive reality game show out there,
and turned the knob to eleven. Whether contestants are drinking
condiment cocktails, spinning around in a desk chair while trying to
remember a growing list of colors, the tasks are patently bizarre and
almost always entertaining.
thing that I remember: contestants have an out. Survivor
castaways (who were eating butok larvae before Fear Factor even
existed in America) can quit any time. Solitarians can press the red
button in their pod to finish their experience with the show. No
contestant is ever held against their will or forced to play any game
that the show has: they can bail out, forfeit their chance at the big
prize and be done with it.
next time you hear someone complain about the horrible challenges that
players must undertake to win the grand prize, remember that these are
people who happily traded a few days of their lives to be flung off
helicopters, to drink blended everything, and so on to have a crack at
the grand prize, or in some cases just to be on TV. They want to be on
TV, I want to watch them compete. Everyone wins.
Travis Eberle can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. No complaining!