On a recent episode of The Amazing Race, while in India, Brandon and Nicole took a “Fast Forward” that would have enabled them to leap ahead in the game. All they had to do was travel to a temple and perform an as-yet unknown Hindu ritual. But when they arrived at the temple, they balked, backed out, couldn’t bring themselves to go through with it. Why not? The ritual involved shaving their heads, and they were both models. Damn near cost them the game and a million bucks, their confounded vanity. Shoot, I was especially looking forward to seeing dorky Brandon stripped of his beautiful golden curls.

Later that night, a friend told us about an acquaintance from a family where all the women had had breast cancer. She was the only one who hadn’t. Wanting to make sure she could stick around to raise her child, she opted for a voluntary, pre-emptive, double mastectomy. Had her breasts removed even though she didn’t yet show any signs of cancer, just in case.

We all have our priorities.

Music: Mogwai :: Year 2000 Non-Compliant Cardia

2 Replies to “Priorities”

  1. Their choice was one of possible short term big bucks or longer-term loss of work. At least that’s how they apparently saw it: no work as models for a year or however long it’d take to grow the hair back. In modeling youth and looks are everything and gaps in employment are probably probably hard to recover from. Of course they could probably work with wigs. And the perception many of us get is that it’s not just about the money, it’s about their self-image and vanity.

    I think I see your point but the contrast of a choice to give up a part of yourself to ensure life and to be there for your children is a huge and honorable one.

    Really, when you size it up, choosing a slightly better than 1 in 10 shot at $1,000,000 versus your ability to work for a living in your career for the next year or so and the possible loss of that career strikes me as a more rational and honorable decision than to throw away what’s important to you for a crap shoot’s chance at big bucks. Yet it manages to come off as a shallow act of vanity because we want to see them make sacrifices and be humiliated. If they made a bigger sacrifice so they could go back to work when the show ended I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

    I didn’t figure you for an Amazing Race fan but at least, of all the Reality ilk which we eat up much of here, it’s the one that crosses the most cultural boundaries. Donna is a big reality TV fan so we see tons of it. I find it interesting for the same reasons I have read auto-biographies for years: it’s insightful to see other people’s lives and how they react to challenges. It’s not real by a long shot — much of it is so contrived and conflict is so staged — but it’s still that got core encapsulation of real people facing up to losing and winning stuff that seems to give a glimpse into the motivations and actions of people.

    One of my favorites and also hardest to watch is Airline on Bravo. Airline customer service is the pits; it’s the trial by fire of the customer service industry. The airline make mistakes and poor or discrectionary judgement calls but for the most part the show is about how real people react under pressure. And it’s not pretty. The hissy fits and temper tantrums and “I need to talk to your supervisor” scenes again and again paint a picture of a society at it’s worst – in a rush with egocentric “I’m more important than anyone else” attitudes where treating other people like crap is suddenly ok because something didn’t happen the way someone thought it should. It’s amazing to think that people sign off to let their hissy fits get aired, apparently because they’re self-assured they will be vindicated. Sure, sometimes asking to talk to a supervisor is merited. But we seem to have created a culture where people think they can go up and endless chain of management on the spot until they get the answer they want. And the customer isn’t always right, or even if they if they are right there isn’t always an immediate solution to placate them.

    What amazes me most is that people don’t seem to understand that the ones who act gracefully and respectfully under stress seem to be the ones that do get the slightly more helpful discretionary assistance more often than those who shout and attempt to intimidate. When you trample the people you rely on to help you they have little incentive to go the extra mile for you.

    To me it all falls under the lumping of people into those who accept responisbility for their actions and those who choose to see everything with blame and with themselves as the victim.

    It’s a broad sweep but those blame-throwing victims account for a big part of the ugly stuff that snares the rest of us in their web of anger and frustration when it’s often their own fault. When they can’t move on when faced with adversity they have to intentionally or inadvertently hold up the rest of us and pollute everyone else around themselves because of it.

    Back to the Amazing Race, a week or two before was one of the most disturbing episodes in a few seasons of the show. One guy who is particularly abusive to his girlfriend and the rest of the world decided that he’d re-negotiate his cab fare if he didn’t make it somewhere first because of a flat tire. Nevermind that they all had to wait when they got to the destination anyway so there was little possible real advantage. He came across as a cheapskate motivated more by his desire to belittle and cheat someone so he’d have a few more dollars in his pocket. He let it escalate until he was taken to the police, then tried the supervisor gambit (ON THE COPS!), and didn’t seem to recognize the severity of possibly being thrown in jail in a foreign country for being an asshole and breaking a verbal contract. He just couldn’t let it go. And when he did he still had to do it as disrespectfully as he could. Does he learn from it? Probably not and he’s still in the yearbook as most likely to get arrested for assult and most likely to end up involved in domestic violence. But hopefully some of the audience learns something from that kind of shameless display of self-centered self-righteousness.

  2. I think you’d be right to not peg me as an Amazing Race fan… we generally choose one reality show at a time to treat as our “indulgence” and somehow this one became “it” (although we slog along through Amish in the City sometimes too).

    I agree about seeing people and society at its worst – it comes across especially strong on this show, where people are in other countries treating the people who live there with little or no respect, almost oblivious to the fact that they could be having a cultural experience, in fact. It makes me very sad.

    I missed the taxi incident you mention – was it Colin? It was just shocking to see him tonight driving an ox like a raving madman, and screaming at his girlfriend “Oh my god, I hate you!!!” Of course it didn’t help that she was barking at him to “Learn how to drive the ox, now!” when clearly it needed to be led, and she wasn’t lifting a finger to lead.

    So much human ugliness on display, and on so many channels!

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