Thursday, October 27, 2005


I have recently watched a few episodes of the tv show "Intervention." And I will not be watching any more.

the subtext of this show, which profiles addicts and documents the moment, in a "intervention" by family and friends, when they decide to seek help, is actually really disturbing. the discourse of addiction in this country ignores the most important thing: that Americans may be, on the whole, addicts, thanks to our inability to relate to anything except in that we can consume it. instead, we have a tv show like this, which tells us that if you eat, sleep, drink, take drugs, watch tv, play video games,exercise, have sex, shop, or use email to feel better about yourself, you are an addict. and you are sick and inadequate and you need help.

upsetting subtext: if you do anything that makes you feel better, it's bad. you are only "okay" if you feel good all the time "naturally." extend that logically: if you need to make any kind of effort, since "addictive" behaviors have been defined to include everything human beings might do except breathe, to feel good about your life, you are defective.

the converse being: since that's impossible, you can be provisionally "okay" if you narrativize your defect via psychiatry and/or the 12 steps, thereby identifying yourself by way of that defect and making yourself easily re-assimilable into the social fabric that makes these rules.

that is, you are either an addict or an addict who agrees to "specify" yourself. sinner, meet repentant sinner. or, i guess, you are perfectly happy all the time without any help. in which case you are a scientologist. and that's a whole other post.

i agree with this NOT AT ALL. real, life threatening addiction is bad enough, and real enough. i don't need to be reminded of the short distance between myself and, say, Courtney Love everytime I eat a doughnut.

don't you think that a power structure that bases its power on convincing us that we are all defective is a little suspicious? so we are either defective or normalized and, either way, totally subject to this discourse of normalization.

come to think of it, this whole structure sounds a lot like scientology. and my critique of it sounds a lot like Foucault.


Blogger danslaterre said...

Yes, it does sound a lot like Foucault, but there's nothing wrong with that. (By the way, I know I've said this before, but if you haven't done so yet please, please, please read Discipline and Punish -- the doors will open.)

I love the identification of eating doughnuts and conjuring Courtney Love -- that's delicious.

Just as an additional thought, you have to understand that what these shows appeal to is a particular (and very large) audience. The agenda for such programs is not to convince everyone that they are flawed (a normative operation), but to connect with those who already feel they are flawed. One might argue that this is a deep-seated condition in the human psyche, and various institutions attempt to address/ameliorate/appropriate this feeling of being "broken" (such a problematic word) -- confusion, despair, and longing makes a ready-made market that these programs easily tap into.

But "that's just what I think" -- ;)

8:07 AM  
Blogger sarah ruddy said...

I love the identification of eating doughnuts and conjuring Courtney Love -- that's delicious.

Especially since she's totally fat now from all the methadone. And Done-uts.
Tee hee hee.

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