Thursday, July 01, 2010

Make-Over Lives

Idling across the TV channels one encounters numerous make-over programs. Anything can be made-over: bodies, wardrobes, financial businesses, houses, lives. The makers of the programs scout for the most pitiful buggers, who are ugly, or whose children suffer from fatal diseases, or who have lost their jobs. Preferably all three. Then they descend upon them, send them away for 2 weeks, and hey, presto! New persons, new happiness.
It is not philanthropy that sends TV makers to improve the lives of these victims. It is entertainment. It is all for the sake of poor sods like us, the audience, who take the viewing rate to a higher level. We want to see this. We want to believe that the fairy godmother may knock on our door and change our pumpkin into a carriage.
So what do we see when houses are made over? We see people living in dire circumstances, derelict houses, that desperately need repairs. In America the TV saviours take the whole house down and build a new one; in Europe they would need planning permission for that, so the renovations are less drastic. Yet, here too, they go all out. Plumbing, insulation, bathrooms, furniture, knick-knacks, toys for the children, nothing is neglected.
Result: a perfect, perfectly boring house. Everything matching, everything according to a plan or a theme. Mum likes Buddha? Buddhas hang on the wall and sit in the garden. But Grandma’s sofa and her embroidered cushion have gone. And so has the old swing set in the backyard. All life has been sucked out of the house.
Never mind. The inhabitants of the lifeless house are happy. Balled over. Ecstatic.
Rather them than me.

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