A new report has found that women on MTV reality television programs call each other rodents, skanks, trash bags, tricks (whatever that is) and hoes. The study condemns reality television’s negative depictions of female and male behaviour, as the networks compete to reach the next level of shock value. It can’t be denied that reality television often exploits and humiliates its participants for entertainment value.
There is, however, a notable exception in Junior MasterChef 2011, which has made a visible effort to protect the emotional and mental health of its young participants. I’ve observed the previews of both Junior MasterChef seasons with a resolve not to support a competition that places unnecessary, national pressure on children. But I’ve been won over by the optimism and resilience of the young participants.
The challenges are colourful, the judges gentle, and each negative comment comes wedged in a compliment sandwich. Children aren’t alienated from their families – a stark comparison with its adult counterpart, where participants must resign from society. The judges focus on celebrating the leaders of the scoreboard rather than exploiting the losers, and deliberate strategies are implemented to build upon the children’s self-confidence.
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At least once a week, when I open the newspaper there seems to be some fresh new panic about the tsunami of childhood obesity that is crashing on our golden sandy beaches which a generation or two ago were filled with healthy bronzed young men and women who were either training for the next Olympic Games or about to pull on a pair of battered Dunlop Volley sandshoes, borrow a beaten up old wooden racquet and fly off to win Wimbledon.
Yep, every time a politician opens his or her mouth (usually on the way to a four course five star lunch at a taxpayer funded Parliamentary Dining Room) they sadly shake their heads, wobble their double chins and lament the rise of the TV obsessed Generation XXL.
If you ask most people who they blame for this sad decline, they would nominate a man who might be best described as Richard Nixon, Colonel Sanders and Hannibal Lector all rolled into one. I’m talking of course about Ronald McDonald. He’s there, supersizing our kids against their better judgement till their belts burst open.
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I’m sure $15,000 seems like a lot of money when you’re nine, especially if you break it down into mixed lollies.
But heck, even cobbers are 10 cents now. One dollar’s worth of mixed lollies gets you a few strawberries and cream, a banana, a set of teeth, two snakes and some leftover white jelly beans.
My point is while raising $15k requires a lot of hard work for most of us, the prize money on offer for the winner of Junior Masterchef is laughable in TV terms.
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So people are forking out up to $50,000 so that the likes of Matt Moran, Neil Perry and Peter Gilmore can come over to their house and knock up dinner.
I’d like to see them try it at my place. If Peter Gilmore can find a way of turning a six-pack of Boags Draught, a couple of bananas, some bacon rashers and a jar of jalapenos into a snow egg, he’s welcome to the entire contents of my bank account.
Presumably the deal is that the chefs bring their own food with them, and all your fancy friends get to ooh and ahh as it is assembled. It’s all the go now among Sydney’s charity set, where the richest people in town bid obscene amounts of cash for what the marketing department likes to call “money-can’t-buy” opportunities.
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With the MasterChef juggernaut about to serve up its latest side dish in the form of Junior MasterChef, the kitchen timer is already trilling with the first claim of exploitation of its young contestants.
Last night the nation’s most lucrative TV brand shortened the apron strings and lowered the bench heights as a bunch of eight to 12-year-olds battled it out to become the most precocious kid …. oops, I mean, the most talented tween chef in Australia.
But not everyone is happy about combining kids with reality TV and it’s not because they’ll be staying up past their bedtimes.
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