Updated: October 16, 2010
You all know I hate reality TV. Which is why I'm best suited to produce, direct and host one. Only someone with genuine disdain for the genre can possibly think of such a monumental idea that would both emphasize the absurdity of the whole thing and make its participants loathe their very souls yet unable to say no.
The answer: A show called Humiliate Yourself. Now, people already do this a lot in the existing productions, selling their soul and what little character they have for a few minutes of wannabe glory on TV. In my show, we're talking taking things to the extreme. We examine the vocabulary and social definition of humiliation, for after all, it's just the matter of price tag.
Humiliate Yourself is all about taking normal, normative, healthy people and making them undergo a degrading, humiliating and painful experience in return for a lot of money. This has never done before. Forget Fear Factor or Jackass. That's for amateurs. I'm talking taking stupidity to a whole new level. I'm talking a revolution.
Contestants must be at least 18 years old, with median or higher income. After all, abusing poor or underprivileged people is simply wrong and no fun at all. Abusing people who have everything in their life except meaning and fulfillment is. Therefore, to enlist, potential contestants will have to prove they have a steady job, no debt, no illnesses, or any other problems that the participation in the show might somehow solve.
All participants must be voluntary attention-seekers, people with vapid and meaningless lifestyle, no goals or ambitions save camera time, no scruples. Most of people already participating in existing reality shows would do, except they are cowards.
After being accepted on the show, participants undergo a long series of painful, degrading trials. We will shortly outline the program. The more degrading or dangerous the task is, the more rewarding it is. At the end of each episode, audience will vote the winner using a super-expensive SMS service. Winners will get extra cash and a chance to appear in the big finale.
The show will be streamed live, for free, in HD and translated in many languages, with sponsorship from advertising and SMS thingie.
Now, the really good stuff ...
Humiliate Yourself is not about eating bugs or sleeping in a hummock on a tropical island. That's so yesterday. My show is about real physical pain and real life-threatening danger, laced with irony and disgust.
It goes like this. A small, cheap car like Fiat Uno is parked on a gentle slope, with steering wheel locked in place, engine turned off and the gearbox disengaged, in neutral position. The car parking brake is then released. The car is let roll, accelerating by the force of gravity alone. The rolling distance is calculated so that the car achieves a certain velocity at the bottom of the slope.
At the bottom of the slope, the car hits the contestant, roughly in the knee region.
Now, car accidents of this kind can be dangerous, therefore the contestant is safely padded in a huge sponge suit, designed to absorb any damage to upper body regions. The whole idea is to inflict knee damage without causing life danger, although there is no guarantee.
Contestants are paid money based on the car velocity, say a million dollars for a 20kph hit, five millions for a 40kph hit, ten millions for a 60kph hit. The show also takes responsibility to rush injured contestants to hospital, fully financing all and any medical care as well as recovery and disability claims.
Now, why Fiat Uno, you ask? Well, because it's a cute, low-priced car. Getting run over by a Jag is more stylish, although the end result might be pretty much the same. Still, given a tough choice, most people would go for an expensive car, as if that might somehow sweeten the impact. However, for all practical purposes, any old, used car would do, as long as it's cheap and rusty. In fact, any car will do.
Disclaimer: No car company would be held liable, of course! In fact, the contestants may be asked to bring their own cars, so that no one can file any frivolous claims later on.
It's a very simple task. Contestants need to jump from a certain height onto the ground below. Again, the type of surface they land on and the height they jump from determine the prize. For instance, jumping from 10 meters down to a soft soil would be worth far less than a leap from 15 m down to a concrete pavement.
Likewise, precautions would be taken to minimize life danger, although again, there's no guarantee.
Here, there would be no life danger, only a big pool of excrement with gold bullion scattered at the bottom, under approx. 2-3 meters of feces. The contestant would be given a short period during which they would have to dive into the pool and hunt for gold. They could use accessories like a diving mask and such, but then, they would have to forfeit some of their winnings.
Note: Image taken and adapted from Wikipedia, licensed under CC-BY 2.0.
Nothing sinister, just eating foods long past their due. The contestants would then have to race one another round the track while battling indigestion. The contestant who holds out longest against a lavatory visit would be declared the winner, with pay-per-minute cash reward. Bonus episodes would include laxatives.
A very simple task - a long corridor with 100-dollar bills hanging from the ceiling on thin cords, spaced at random intervals. Contestants would run into the corridor, naked, pitting their avarice against the slightly discomforting effects of the gas. The thing is, the deeper they go, the more profit they glean - hopefully, but this would also mean a much longer return leg. It would be a funny experiment in endurance, coordination and stamina. And human choice. Do you stumble about blindly or do you try to peak to see where the next bill is going to be?
Those willing to undergo a cold water shower afterwards would double their winnings.
The Ladder Surprise goes as follows - you are asked to climb on a ladder and perform some frivolous task like unscrewing light bulbs or painting the ceiling. Then, maybe, maybe not, during the course of your activity, the ladder is kicked underneath you, either by pulling on a rope or a more stringent method, like ramming a quad into the prop. You suffer whatever physics throw at you, may it be a hard fall, power tools raining on your head and so forth. On the other hand, the laws of randomness may determine that nothing would happen. The longer you stay on the ladder - and higher up - the higher your chances of winning; however, this also increases the chances of something coming by and tackling you down.
It is quite possible that suicidal people might want to partake in the show, but to avoid this, the show would guarantee prize only to the contestants themselves, deemed void in the case of death, excluding funeral services and other arrangements. Nevertheless, the show would try to set rules so that life danger is minimized as much as possible.
And that would be all ... for now.
Oh, you are shocked and disgusted, aren't you. You think I have a sick mind and whatnot. The truth is, I am sure this kind of show would be more than welcome if reality show producers could get away with it. Just imagine the publicity, both positive and negative, imagine the billions of people who would watch this, of their own free will.
There have been a few movies that portrayed this concept, like Death Race 2000 and Death Race (the remake) or The Running Man, so I'm hardly the pioneer, more of a visionary. And while the movies tried to be sensational, provocative and with a vague message of deep social impact, sort of woe our future lest we perish or suchlike, my shows aims for none of these. Humiliate Yourself is designed to expose the true nature of human soul, nothing more, nothing less.
If you have any cool ideas and would like to share them, feel free to email me. Many thanks for David and Raph for the CS gas tunnel and the Ladder Surprise ideas. Both the tunnel and the ladder pics are public domain. That would be all, fellas. Party on.