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Jewish World Review Jan. 15, 2000/ 20 Teves 5761

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Consumer Reports

It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it --
I WASN'T TEMPTED. I was ethically bound by my new year's resolution to watch the premiere of Temptation Island.

That's right, my new year's resolution is to watch more television. Except for news programs, mostly CNN (now the Wolf 'n Greta! Show), I've watched little television in recent years. I missed Survivor; I missed Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?; I even missed Seinfeld and Friends. And West Wing, except for the first episode of the new season last October, which I was forced to watch because I was in Washington, D.C., where West Wing is apparently required viewing.

I was sitting in a hotel bar when the clock struck 9 p.m., and suddenly everyone in the room gasped in unison: "Ohmigod, West Wing, West Wing, quick someone, where's the remote?" I was a little disturbed by the sound of muffled weeping from the guy a few stools down. This is what therapists call "over-identification." Then and there, I decided: I must watch more TV.

And so I watched the first in the six-part series of Temptation Island, wherein, everyone breathing knows, four "committed" couples go to an exotic island and spend two weeks with carefully selected man-and-lady slayers (a Playboy model, a Los Angeles Lakers' dancer, a Miss Georgia 2000, a masseuse) whose goal is to tempt the committed to un-commit.

Of course, I had done my preliminary homework, boning up on the philosophical discussions of so-called reality TV. I had read the scholars, critics, pundits. I had watched Greta! and assorted guests trying to get their minds around the cultural ramifications. Is it voyeurism? Is it bad TV? Will our children be emotionally scarred if they watch this dreck, which can only dredge up other traumatic exposures to inappropriate adult material, such as during the recent presidential impeachment?

As I tuned in, pad and pen ready, I couldn't help recalling the old apology: "I read Playboy for the articles!" I imagined committed couples all across America gathering around the tube to make intellectual discoveries about the emotional intricacies of Serious Relationships. Uh-huh, and Baywatch was an exercise in psycho-cybernetics whereby watching people swim improves one's breast stroke through subliminal manipulation.

All I know is that when I asked my husband which of the hired man-killers he liked best, the physician or the lawyer, he said: "Which one was in the red bikini?"

Uh, honey, weren't you reading the text next to the pictures?

"What text?"

For those who missed the first episode, a quick recap: We meet the couples and learn just enough to care whether they're attacked by sharks (maybe) but not enough to care whether their relationships survive. And we meet all the mateless provocateurs around the pool. Suffice it to say, they're all young and gym-friendly.

Next, the committed ladies go to one end of the island with the unattached guys, and vice versa, where the erstwhile couples will try to figure out whether their significant other is really all that significant. First scene: Men are babe-festing amid gales of guy guffaws while their girlfriends down the beach are circling the wagons around one of their sisters, who is, guess what, already in tears.

But stay tuned: There's more to come next week and the week after. Will they succumb? Will they break up? Will we watch?

Of course we will. For my part, I'll continue to think deep thoughts about the underlying meaning of Temptation Island and give serious consideration to the moral decay this new entertainment medium portends.

Meanwhile, let me assure all of you who find this type of programming disgusting, shameless, morally bankrupt, voyeuristic trash, you're absolutely right. I wouldn't watch it if I were you, but, alas, I am a slave to duty.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.


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12/28/00: Doesn't take village to see through this
12/26/00: Guess who's whining about Bush's Cabinet of Diversity?
12/21/00: Kiss our coarse era goodbye
12/19/00: Ready to lay to rest the past and press onward
12/13/00: Court has Supreme authority
12/06/00: Legal relief: Attorneys in Florida court are welcome shift
12/04/00: When rules become flexible, children misbehave
11/29/00: Hard to forgive Dems' divisiveness
11/23/00: The answers aren't so complicated
11/21/00: The devil -- or is it really Nurse Ratchet? -- in Mr. Gore
11/16/00:In the end, the winner may be loser
11/13/00: Eliminate popular vote -- at least in Palm Beach County
11/07/00: Lesser of 2 evils? It's more like the lesser of 2 lies
11/02/00: Latest Jones' saga exposes a big irony
10/31/00: Hate-crime legislation and anti-Bush ad are flawed
10/26/00: Taking it to the streets
10/23/00: Headlines blur fiasco of family
10/13/00: Forget polls: Bush passes turtle test
10/06/00: Feminism: A cup that's half full?
10/04/00: Election-year reality check: Abortion is here to stay
09/29/00: For Gore and Hollywood, the mirror has two faces
09/26/00: Oprahfication of presidential political: It's all about feelings
09/19/00: It's not subliminal: Hypocrisy of moral outrage is obvious
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08/21/00: Dems manufacture emotions at convention
08/17/00: Hollywood divine? AlGore is miscast
08/08/00:Outreach: Good strategy and long-run policy
08/04/00: A sharp look back at the Vietnam War
08/01/00: Bush's choice of grown-up Cheney is a stroke of genius
07/24/00: Fired up and grossed out over stupid Canadians
07/20/00: Lack of judgment --- our critical flaw
07/18/00: 'Progress' for women often a step back
07/11/00: School essay watchdogs cannibalize our children
07/06/00: Youths fear marriage --- blame boomers
06/28/00: Eminem might just have a point
06/21/00: Bridging the day-care divide
06/15/00: N.Y. baby case ends up with multiracial scrambled eggs
05/31/00: The war only time wins
05/25/00: The opposite of sex
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05/11/00: Boy Crazy! stacks deck against guys
05/09/00: Finding out where the boys are
05/05/00: A born Ms. Leader -- Barbie for prez
04/25/00: From here to paternity
04/14/00: Boys should be boys, not viewed as criminals in training
04/11/00: Oh, for a standard of what is socially, morally acceptable
04/06/00: Womyn's Contempt for Commitment --- and the bastards it creates
04/04/00: Sue-happy American society is out of control
03/30/00: Duct-taped baby serves as warning
03/28/00: Stay-home parents know that their kids need them
03/24/00: No 'Great Expectations' when schools shun the classics
03/21/00: It's common sense to restrict Internet usage in libraries
03/17/00: You want to be just a mom? For shame!
03/14/00: Colonoscopy: Important, but bad TV
03/10/00: I made a mistake about trigger-locks
03/08/00: After this school shooting, no easy target for our contempt
03/03/00: Car crash helps bridge our divide
02/28/00: Nasty politics? Americans like it down, dirty
02/14/00: College testing via Lego-building -- yeah, right
02/02/00: Bubba should spare us phony love theatrics
01/26/00: What sets off Those Who Speak for Women
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01/11/00: Who funds these studies!?
12/29/99: Grandparents' rights impinge on family autonomy
12/13/99: When did fathers become fair game?
12/09/99: Don't be stupid about at-risk kids
12/07/99: Pokemon is no substitute for a father
12/02/99: Blaming the victim --- men
11/30/99: Baby-killer's story has less-than-Precious ending
11/23/99: Pendulum swings back toward discipline, responsibility
11/18/99: Put the babies first in this mighty mess
11/11/99: Skip the applause for this baby news
11/09/99: Gore could benefit from a secret in Wolf's clothing
11/03/99: Who needs 'birds and bees' when we have MTV?
11/01/99: Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say
10/26/99: Children's needs must take priority in divorce system
10/19/99: The deadbeat dad is less a scoundrel than an object of pity
10/15/99: Bullying boys ... and girls
10/12/99: Divorced dads ready to wage a revolution
10/04/99: A father's best gift? His presence
09/30/99: Sorry, guys, Faludi is no friend of yours
09/28/99: Science's new findings: Scary future for families
09/23/99: The great blurring of need and want
09/21/99:Focus on more than baby's first 3 years
09/16/99: Commentary from kids sheds no light on day-care debate
09/14/99: Fathers' group seeks to right inequities
09/09/99: Son now has a license to grow up
09/07/99: A slap in the face of domestic violence
09/01/99: No, ma'am: Legislation on manners misses the mark
08/26/99: For better boys, try a little tenderness
08/24/99:The ABC's of campaign questions
08/19/99: Male 'sluts'
08/11/99: Language doesn't excuse bad behavior
08/09/99: When justice delayed is still justice
08/03/99: Unemployment? Not in this profession
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07/22/99: Tragedy tells us what's important
07/19/99: Study denouncing fathers sends danger signals
07/15/99:'Happy marriage' belongs in the Dictionary of Oxymorons next to 'deliciously low-fat.'
07/11/99: 'Brother Man': An American demagogue in Paris
07/08/99: Only parents can fix broken families
07/06/99: America is home, sweet home
07/01/99: Tales out of Yuppiedom
06/28/99: Men aren't the only abusers
06/23/99: Is the entire country guzzling LSD punch?
06/20/99: The voice remains -- as always -- there beside me 06/16/99:Stating the obvious, a new growth industry
06/14/99: Calling for a cease-fire in the gender war
06/10/99: We owe children an apology

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