The video below has been up on YouTube for two days. During that time it’s received over a million and a half hits:
I’ll give you my own response to what transpired in those brief moments below the fold.
– – – – – – – – –
This brother-sister act is just that: an act. The indignation, the shout-out to the rapist, the stamp-your-foot outrage – all of it designed for the “news” clip that would later air on TV.
Their act had to be over the top, otherwise how could they compel the TV
entertainment news show to film them? And if they weren’t getting their two minutes’(and two seconds) worth of fame, then what was the experience worth in the long run?
Have you ever sat at the local mall for a while and watched the “Reality Show Groups” strut by? The whole time these kids are there, the self-conscious interactions are performed as though there were a camera following them. It’s self-consciousness totally barren of any self-awareness.
Too much television has been blamed for all sorts of cultural problems. But has anyone addressed the hollowing out of the core self which is the outcome of a TV-saturated life?
As it happens, they have. Call it the “Truman Syndrome”, named after the 1998 Jim Carrey film:
Joel and Ian Gold, a New York psychiatrist and Montreal academic, say they have been inundated with cases since they first expounded what they have dubbed the “Truman Syndrome” two years ago.
The condition might seem comical – one man went to a US government building and announced he wanted his show to end – but it tended to be “absolutely debilitating” as sufferers believed they could trust no-one, said Dr Joel Gold, head of psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital in New York.
He said he had recently been contacted by the father of a girl who had contemplated suicide because she believed it was the only way of “getting out of the show”.
It was also difficult to treat because, as he had found himself, sufferers will dismiss their doctors and psychiatrists as actors.
The existence of a specific Truman Syndrome has divided experts, with critics pointing out that delusional patients have long believed that friends or relatives have been replaced by imposters.
However, the Gold brothers counter that the Truman Syndrome is different because of the “sweeping” scope of the delusion, taking in society at large.
“We’re not claiming it’s a new form of mental illness and we’re not suggesting these people would be well if there was no YouTube,” said Dr Gold.
“But we’ve passed a watershed moment with respect to the internet, in which you can do something very silly and without skill, and yet become famous instantly. That can be very exciting for many people but for those who are at risk of this kind of paranoia, it can be very stressful.”
“Silly and without skill” pretty much nails this sad delusional state. Why strive for accomplishment if you can win instant fame? Just look at all the others who’ve made it. Why shouldn’t I?
I first noticed the preoccupation with fame among young girls when I was working in foster care programs. In fact, it was impossible to get most of the girls to be ‘real’ even in moments of extreme duress. Always, there was the camera – at least the one inside their head – moving in for close-ups of their over-wrought emotional state.
Except, it wasn’t really a state of being so much as a shallow acting-out of what they thought represented an emotion: extremis on the outside…but nothing inside. These girls, as young as they were, had been hollowed out; there wasn’t a core self with principles or beliefs. They hungered after fame because that’s all they’d ever been shown as representing genuine satisfaction.
So it seems to be with the latest titillation from YouTube: a brother-sister act that may go into overtime if the police find the perpetrator.
Lord spare us – and them – Act II.
Hat tip: Brutally Honest
Thanks to Archonix for the tip to this song. Much more concisely than I, these lyrics capture several aspects of the intellectual poverty on display in the afflicted.
Couch potatoes can sit and dream…