Is Quiz Show Deception Back? TV Tricks Have Never Left
From reality to game shows, TV is as full of deception as ever.
Much of the reality show deceit comes from lifestyle/competition series, where the drama behind the scenes can be heavily edited to reach the final result.
This isn't new. For years, critics have taken issue with certain independent documentaries where video footage is seemingly taken out of sequence, or where video responses don't always seem to match questions.
We shouldn't always suspend disbelief
Now the Federal Communications Commission is looking into allegations about "My Little Genius," a show from last year that Fox decided not to air. Seems that maybe those little whiz-kids were given some topics and questions beforehand.
This hearkens back to the 1950s, when Federal regulatory agencies investigated TV quiz shows. The practice of providing topics and questions beforehand was rampant, done to achieve heightened drama with the "correct" contestants becoming big winners. Bottom line, it was done to get what every network still wants now: big ratings.
The difference here is that producer Mark Burnett pulled the plug on "Genius" before it even aired because of problems -- which then weren't disclosed. Concerning contest shows, FCC rules (instituted because of those '50s quiz show scandals) say you can't deceive anyone -- or perhaps even think about it.
Deception on TV? This is only the tip of the TV iceberg for me.
I always feel like I'm being deceived -- whether it's not knowing if some Olympic events are live or taped, or whether baseball players or cyclists are lying about their ability to perform without chemical help, or whether TV news footage isn't staged or payments aren't made to news subjects.
In the 1950s, there were only three TV networks. Today there is a lot more stuff to sift through - hundreds of TV channels, millions of digital areas, and other platforms.
Where to begin? You can't uncover all trickery. Still, TV station owners still need to get a license, so you can always start there.
TV still needs to sell its heroes and villains -- with simplicity. Deceiving the public was a big deal 60 years ago. It's not any more right today. Though we're bigger skeptics, we still want to be told a good story.