I have real "Nite-Owl" tendencies. The "ultimate omelet" machine and other questionable use items in my kitchen prove this.
Watching late-night television has caused me to question my decision to be a full-time basketball coach and a part-time producer. Maybe I should reverse that. The producing world needs help. On one side of the ledger is the Rural Farm Network (RFD Television). I like them—lots of talk about tractors and farming and soil conversation (Does your horse eat the top of your fences? We have a remedy for that... Of course, I grew up in South Los Angeles and although I have never actually seen a farm, I've got respect for farmers and their entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic.)
My favorite show on the Rural Farm Network is Big Joe’s Polka Party. It’s set in a barn and there are lots of farmers and farmer's wives dancing to what has to be the best Polka music outside of Warsaw. (I didn’t even know I liked Polka music until I started watching the Rural Farm Network.)
On the other side of the ledger is a show that’s aired in at least 100 markets around the country. It’s called, "Cheaters." For those of you that haven’t seen it, the show pits a hurt, angry partner against the other partner who they believe is ‘cheating.’ The producers of the "Cheaters" use their resources to get the aggrieved partner a level of resolution. In exchange, of course, for the rights to air the breadth of their hurt and pain for the world to see.
The two part theme of "investigation" and "confrontation" borrows from the model presented in Dick Wolf's hit television show, "Law and Order" (well, at least the original L&O).
Since I’ve got a secret love for bad television, I’ve just kinda ‘gone with the flow’ on Cheaters. The last episode, however, is making me wonder if "Cheaters" isn’t up to a little ‘cheatin’ chicanery of its own or delivering us a message that is, at the least, prophetic, and at the high end, Orwellian.
Let’s take a walk backward. Forty-five days after September 11, 2001, the Patriot Act was passed. I encourage you to read it for yourself—the text can be found at (http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/terrorism/hr3162.htm).
It is tedious reading, but trust me, if you are a citizen of these United States, it affects you. And, if you’ve got time to thumb through Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan, Jet, or People Weekly, you can make time to read the Patriot Act. Instead of reading USA Today while you’re on an airplane, get the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act poses an unmistakable question: What kind of America do you want to live in? And, how many freedoms are you willing to give up to live in this America.
There is lots of language about money laundering schemes and what will happen to you if you get into in the business of unauthorized wire transfers. There is also talk about authorizing more money for patrolling the Northern Borders and improving the security of passports though the use of technology.
Some of the stuff, admittedly, was over my head. Remember, I am a basketball coach and a television producer…definitely not the ‘sharpest knife’ in the drawer.
Other stuff, though, I got loud and clear. The Federal Government can now share information that’s gleaned (about you and without your consent or knowledge) with local and state governments. This means that stuff can be learned about you —obtained without a warrant—turned over to local or state authorities—without you knowing it—and they can get a warrant based on probable cause. Then, they can take what they learned and use it in an investigation against you. Game Over: You Lose.
Or, what about this: video surveillance and wiretaps. (I don’t want to spoil this part for you—reading it on your own can be truly uplifting.)
The attacks of 9-11 rocked everyone’s world. We were told that emergency measures had to be enacted immediately to protect us. (And, remember, the Administration was so concerned about us that they finished writing the Patriot Act in just 45 days.) There is, however, a ‘sunset clause’ which says that if Congress doesn’t reauthorize, it will go away December, 2005. (There is a movement afoot to make the Patriot Act a permanent part of our lives…but, that’s another post.)
All of this brings me back to the last episode of "Cheaters." Joey Greco, the host of "Cheaters" -- (who would be bearable if he were more like Allan Funk instead of always looking like he’s in a funk)— with camera crew in tow barges into Casey’s (the cheatin’ boyfriend) house (or his g.f.’s house, I was never quite certain) while he is in flagrante delicto with his g.f.’s homegirl.
Joey questions him about his actions and disregard for his commitment to the g.f. Meanwhile, the g.f.’s homegirl is struggling to find her size 34A bra and get decent before the eager camera lens shows us everything the good Lord gave her.
A confrontation ensues. The g.f. and Casey argue over who’s house it is ("your name may be on the lease, but I pay the bills"). The camera, however, keeps rolling. Sanctimonius Joey instigates. The homegirl searches for her wonder bra. Our man Casey, amidst all this craziness, brandishes—of all things—a paintball gun. He starts blasting away. Joey and the g.f. scurry to the unmarked vans under the ‘splat-splat’ sound of paint balls missing their target. Casey, now looking like Stallone in "First Blood" triumphantly exercises control over his domain running the camera crew all the way back to Interstate 30. He has banished the intruders from his world.
By this time, I was actually rooting for Casey.
Then, it hit me. What if Casey wasn’t a so-called cheatin’ boyfriend, but instead a guy who’d been falsely fingered as having ties to a group that’s unapproved by the Patriot Act.
The guys wouldn’t have cameras, but rifles instead. The T-shirts wouldn’t say Cheaters, but DEA or FBI. And, if Casey retrieved a paintball gun and looked like he was about to unload a clip, a soft-spoken guy in a dark blue suit would be asking his family whether they’d prefer him being buried in the white shirt or the gray shirt.
I remember the scene in "Schindler’s List" based on Krystalnacht. Innocent people, falsely accused, yet taken away in the middle of the night for interrogation, followed by removal to parts unknown.
Is that what’s in our future? Does the Patriot Act mean that average, regular U.S. citizens can be picked up and taken away—their 4th amendment rights trampled upon?
Looking for some summer reading? Instead of "Da Vinci Code" or "The Secret Life of Bees," how about printing a copy of the Patriot Act and reading it as you sit by the pool sipping Seven-Up.
And then, watch an episode of "Cheaters."