“The Briefcase” : When Watching Poor People Struggle is Called “Entertainment”
“The Briefcase” is a reality TV show that gives $101,000 to poor people … to then guilt them into giving that money away. It is a Hunger Games of human misery.
Since the late nineties, television networks have thrown themselves into the production of “reality TV” because it is an inexpensive way to attract idle minds looking for brainless entertainment. Just take a second and think about the garbage television that was produced in the past years … Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? … Temptation Island … Here Comes Honey Boo Boo … Toddlers & Tiaras. The list goes on and it is just brutal. From idiot women competing for a guy because he’s rich to psychotic moms dressing up their daughters like mini-prostitutes, these shows reflect the toxic nature of today’s pop culture. They also reflect how TV network execs perceive the TV-viewing masses. To make things worse, most of these shows are fully scripted and fake, but the viewers do not seem to care.
With The Briefcase, CBS continues this tradition of absurdity … and takes it to new, sadistic and voyeuristic level. Here’s the trailer.
“Across America, hard working families are feeling the impact of rising debts and shrinking paychecks. These tough times are testing the human spirit. Now, comes a new series that makes you question what really matters most”.The show is however not about addressing the cause of this problem or to attempting to fix any of it. It is about dangling money in the faces of people in need and making them beg and cry for it. While this is happening, the producer of the show is in the background whispering : “Yes, yes, cry for that money. I want a closeup of these tears. Yes, now become angry and confused. That’s good TV. Nice. Explain how you’re worried about your debts and the future of your family. Yes, more tears! That’s the money shot!”
As if that premise was not dehumanizing enough, the show also pits together a bunch of stereotypes that are basically reduced to a label.
For each of these shots above, the producer was in the background whispering : “Yes, open that briefcase while wearing sombreros … Yes … Go outside, be gay and kiss for the camera … Yes, that’ll rile up some people … Yes, shoot that gun in the woods … Do you have a cowboy hat? WEAR IT! … Nice, that’s good TV.”
The show ultimately sells us a heartwarming moral : Being good is more important than having money. While this is ultimately true, that message is brought to you by some of the richest people in the world.
CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves is among the world’s highest-paid executives in any industry with an annual compensation of over 70 milllion dollars. The majority shareholder of CBS, Sumner Murray Redstone is worth 6.2 billion dollars (yes, billions). Both of them are deeply connected with the world elite in numerous ways and through various channels.
It is these people who are behind this “misery porn”, where the financial troubles of carefully selected families are exploited, emphasized and fetishized in order to sell advertising time and, as an extra bonus, to training the masses to accept their dire financial fate. Because, if they don’t, they’ll be labeled as greedy.