TLC AND DISCOVERY CHANNEL FREAK SHOWS

 


Learning. When we see this word, it conjures up images of people
slumped over books or staring glassy-eyed at some droning professor
long bereft of any passion for the subject matter. But learning
encompasses everything, whether it is the fascinating complexities of
the natural world or the knowledge that there exists sentient
individuals that eat their own poop for others to masturbate to. The
Learning Channel and Discovery Channel (henceforth collectively
abbreviated as TLCDC) acknowledge the general theory that the spectrum
of “learning” is essentially limitless, as is exhibited by a large
portion of their current programming focusing on the re-introduction of
the world to all matter of flawed humanity in the form of the
Freakshow, albeit now slathered with a thick layer of cuddles that
obscures it’s inherently exploitative nature and the
Thank-Fuck-That’s-Not-Me sentiment that dwells in the heart of even the
most sanctimonious asshole.

TLCDC has the perfect visual snare for those of us who wander through
channels like an Israelite lost in a mall parking lot—Freaks! Just
think about it. You’re flipping through the wasteland of reality shows,
dull sports and reruns of terrible syndicated comedy when suddenly, you
blast by TLCDC, pause for a moment as the brain processes the flashed
image, cautiously flip back…Oh My. It’s the classic car accident
infatuation, but TLCDC figures that as long as they frame these
tortured individuals in a positive light, they’re free to parade them.

Now I’m not going to digress into some “Ruthless” rant about how
people like this should be spiked off the delivery room floor,
corralled into catacombs or be gifted to the Mengele Institute of The
Dubious Sciences because I must say that I really feel for many of
these individuals, being that life is difficult enough for Normals,
much less for somebody dealing with some of these truly perplexing
deformities and maladies. Yes, most of them have my genuine sympathy,
but that doesn’t mean I want them to have a grand stage where they or
their parents can crawl up my ass with a bullhorn and bellow about how
awesome and triumphant they are and how their God isn’t a total dick.

So step right up, Folks! Come stare in awe at Nature’s Forgotten
Children! All Manner of Impossible awaits caged behind these heavy
curtains to toss your senses like a cork on New Year’s! Ladies and
Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages! It is my distinguished
honor to present you with…

 

The Two-Headed Girl:

 

They’ve been on the scene for quite some time. Hell, I recall them
being on Oprah over a decade ago, back when a fella had to roll the
dice that the talk show scene would provide him some oddity because the
internet was still a mighty mystery. Most recently, we got a glimpse
into their daily life as teenage girls, meaning two heads or not,
they’re bound to be vapid, superficial bitches. As expected, we follow
them through their snotty day, only pausing here and there so they can
explain to us whatever neurological juggling act they have to do when
it’s time to whack a softball, drive a car or prevent a modern-day
Hercules from checking off #2 and #12 from his Labor List. Then, the
sick makers of the show have the audacity to ask them about boyfriends,
meaning they’re forcing us to ponder the intricacies of sex with
somebody of such “unique” design who also happens to be sixteen. They
are not simply satisfied with our marveling, they want us to intrude
well beyond good taste because the mind-boggling semantics make it seem
ok. It’s not. Don’t go there, Mr. TLCDC Producer, uh-uh.

Exploitation Level: High. These girls function very normally, so the
real story has been left to our tacky imaginations where tasteful
boundaries do not exist.


The 200 Flavors of Midget and Dwarf:


For the run-of-the-mill variety of these “little people,” I say eat it.
You’re short and have the forehead of a telekinetic without the
perks…big fucking deal. Your life is a series of mild inconveniences
and your overcoming of them is barely remarkable. You might be on the
receiving end of a casual double-take from a passerby every now and
again, but the odds of you really freaking somebody out, even a kid,
are slim as your stunted forms are so well-entrenched in our culture;
and in cute ways to boot. There is however, a strain of small that
really breaks my calloused heart—the Primordial Dwarf. These people are
normally proportioned, but tiny—we’re
talking like sub 3-feet here and weighing barely in the teens. There
was this poor little girl who was around nine years old or so and
weighed about twelve pounds. Instead of charging at life with her tank
brimming with overcompensation like in those shows where midgets bitch
about there not being midget-specific clothes, she cried endlessly and
just begged aloud for normality in her hauntingly high voice. Watching
that was sad because here was a person that would forever be treated
like a child while oddly, her more larger, more disproportioned peers
seem almost commonplace in our minds as they hammer out our Christmas
gifts and their effigies pepper the lawns of our White Trash. Really
though–If 98% of the obstacles in your life can be obliterated by a
stepstool, you don’t have it so bad.

Exploitation Level: Low. Very Low.


Tumor Kids:

 

An unexpected glimpse of these poor kids will have your mind doing
somersaults as you alternatively mutter “Oh my God” and “Get in here”
to whoever happens to be nearby. There was this kid named Novemtree who
was from somewhere in SE Asia…it was almost impossible to make out
facial features beneath the massive amounts of tissue that had
ballooned his head to the size of a baby elephant’s. On another show, I
caught an eyeful of a girl whose entire face was basically a massive
nose—not to be cruel, but my first thought after “I’m not fucking
watching this” was Opus from Bloom County.
There wasn’t much well-spoken English in these stories, so aside from
the visuals, I probably know more overall about whatever child got the
lead in that Christian Children’s Fund ad…by the way, I wonder how
Raquel is doing?

Exploitation Level: Low. Could be higher, but the Third World is two full worlds away from me.

Harlequin Babies:

tlc3

Yowza. This might be the 9-2 off-suit hole cards of genetics.
Fortunately for these babies, they typically die very early, sparing
them a life of amazing discomfort in every form. There was one show,
however, that followed the life of a now-teenage boy stricken with this
horrible disorder where his skin is constantly sloughing off like that
of a microwaved Irishman. To compensate for this, he must eat a massive
amount of food throughout the day and night simply to maintain his body
mass. When he’s not doing this, or making it snow epidermis, he’s
slathering himself in lotion to keep his skin moist and less prone to
the infections that normal skin would stiff-arm with ease. All in all,
he perpetually lives the life of a burn victim that will never properly
heal and his every action might lead to the demise that he’s ducked
since birth. Again, points to him for surviving this long, plus his
innocence makes me admire him because he’s never had to be anything but
strong, so he doesn’t possess the bloated pride that might sour his
struggle.

Exploitation Level: Medium. It would be higher, but the kid’s
dignity saves him, much to the chagrin of whatever PT Barnum descendent
developed this show.


Litterers Will Be Prosecuted:

bunch

Couples wanting a child perpetually find themselves throwing up gamete
airballs and going bankrupt buying pregnancy tests, none of which will
turn black and read “God Says: Give It Up, Bitch,” and end the futility
once and for all. So they flee to God’s arch-nemesis, Science, to
correct their traitorous plumbing. Now there’s probably some wonderful
natural mechanism that has doomed these people to a DNA dead-end, but
sadly, Science can be used to unwind the order of things and often well
beyond the intended point. So suddenly, Infertile Turtles find
themselves simultaneously prego with enough kids to bring a smile to
Joseph Smith’s lips. Now this is when the real nuisance comes in—we’re
supposed to feel bad for them because they have all these fucking kids!
Now their life has more screaming, shitting and puking in it than the
Alabama State Fair and we’re supposed to feel bad that they purposely
forsook their clean, selfish lives and decided to let some low-paid lab
tech create a frappe out of their fluids and blast it into the woman’s
uterus with whatever force was necessary to best her mate’s impotent
dribble. Honestly, inbred farmers do the same thing to cows and with
more dignity. Also, thanks for shitting six kids into the world that
you can’t afford to take care of…I’m sure my taxes will somehow make it
into their college funds, preventing me from buying a Porsche the
second my own, singly-born children leave the nest. If you can’t pop
one over the fence after hundreds or thousands of sexual encounters
where the foreplay solely involved checking the woman’s temperature, go
check out an Adoption Agency…there’s probably a reason why humans
beings only have two nipples.

Exploitation Level: Low. These people are actually exploiting you into sending them free diapers.


The Girl Without a Face:

hmmnmmhh

Mel Gibson starred in a similarly-titled film where he played a
super-handsome man with a half-scarred face and Billy Idol had a song
called “Eyes Without a Face,” which is a pretty apt description of how
this girl began her life…The Girl Without a Face would happily say fuck
you to Mel Gibson and Billy Idol, presuming she can speak. Possibly the
most horrific facial deformity I have ever seen, GWAF had to literally
have a face built for her by doctors from virtually nothing, the
original structure being so extremely minimal that it resembled a clam
shell with googly eyes glued to it like a souvenir you’d find along any
trashy boardwalk. I have no doubt that best effort was made all around
and the lofty goal of a ballpark face was achieved,
unfortunately–please forgive me–it approximates the face of a Tusken
Raider. Now this is the type of deformity that freezes unprepared
people in their tracks. This deformity blows minds, crushes courtesy
and practically demands explanation for the sake of one’s sanity. It is
also one of the most glaring examples of why TLCDC can eat my
properly-encoded ass.

Exploitation Level: High. Difficult visuals with a narrative that
might as well be a sermon. If they had openly forsaken their God
instead of sucked up to him even more, things would’ve been way
classier.

Fatties:

If there’s anybody I don’t feel so bad for, it’s these people. If they
somehow violated the laws of matter and gained 100 pounds every time
they had a bite of a rice cake, I might pity them, but we all know this
is not the case. If you eat 20,000 calories before you get out of bed,
which is never, and burden some poor caretaker with your
hyper-gluttonous lifestyle, you’re kind of a Dick. Hell, I’ll spot you
up to 500 pounds, but the moment you realize that you are no longer
able to move and it’s not due to a spinal cord injury from a stray Crip
bullet, your humanity fades and you essentially become a giant tapeworm
that will scream like a withdrawing junkie when shorted a dozen donuts.
So we get to see these Meat Mountains cry salty tears from atop their
mashed, fetid mattresses or the couches they’ve literally grown intowhile
they rattle off their staggering daily intakes and we are somehow
expected to feel for them. We see them struggle their weight down “low”
enough so that they can get their traitorous stomachs clamped down to
the size of an egg, a laughably medieval means to damn the caloric
river that flows during their every waking moment. Then, in the end,
we’re expected to applaud their bravery when they waste away to a
still-obese individual wearing a jumpsuit of hanging skin. Out of any
of these stories, these are the least tragic because frankly, I’d
rather have to meter every bite and exercise like a maniac if I was
dealt that bad genetic hand, but it’s still a hell of a lot better than
having two heads or no fucking face.

Exploitation Level: High Fructose Corn Syrup. There’s not much to
the story but “I’m fat.” The viewer points and wonders “where does the
poop go?”

In general, the above examples aren’t meant to be objects of ridicule;
rather they are intended as evidence to indict TLCDC for their
exploitative programming. I can only speak for myself, but as I’ve
watched these programs proliferate over the last few years, I’m left
wondering about their necessity. What, if anything, do I learn from
them? What merits do they possess?

After spending many hours deciphering my awkward reactions to these
tales of woe, I find myself a little annoyed because these programs
bait you into uncomfortable mindsets. At face value, they are
chronicles of triumph over adversity and tests of faith and, if you
even possess a shred of decency, you’ll feel uplifted when the credits
roll. On the other hand, if you’re like me, you’ll skip the feel-good
schmaltz and look for the bad… and what you’ll find is that yes, you
are watching this primarily due to morbid curiosity, you’re watching it
to learn the answer to the unanswerable question “What the fuck?”
Countless people suffer every day from injury, disease and poverty, but
they don’t suffer in a sensational way and therefore, do not entice a meandering audience into the Venus Fly Trap of TLCDC.

So maybe this isn’t precisely a bunch of Victorian onlookers with
rotten tomatoes ready in hand, gawking at a shackled Lobster Boy in
blatant disgust, but then again, substituting a packaged sense of
concern doesn’t suddenly make it acceptable to stare at people whether
it is because of harmless amazement or genuine horror. I say leave
these stories for the medical community, charitable institutions and
others that could help alleviate these people’s suffering leaving us,
the useless masses, oblivious for we have nothing to offer but pity at
best, scorn at worst.

In the end, don’t watch these shows…it’s nothing but Rotten.com with
saccharine storylines and a bunch of self-righteous people trying to
make lemonade out of Chernobyl Lemons. So thanks, TLCDC, for reminding
me of the inherent foulness of my own humanity. And oh yeah—“Thank Fuck
that’s not me.”

About Wax

Wax’s output is unfortunately Von Hobartian in frequency, but unlike Hobart, he actually has a life, a job, and responsibilities, so we’ll give him a pass. Also, we need someone who isn’t white.