Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Amazing Race 6 update: Wife-beating isn’t fun to watch

If you’ll indulge me for a moment: watching “The Amazing Race” is an event for my family. I like “TAR” because it shows exotic places and cultures around the world and, in an entertaining fashion, teaches my kids about geography, history and sociology. (My son tracks all the locations on a National Geographic world map.) Also, as the teams race around the world for a $1 million prize, there’s an underlying lesson about strategy, communication and teamwork. As readers of this blog will attest, I’ve been a tireless cheerleader for what I consider the best show on television.

That said, it’s been increasingly difficult to watch (and expose my kids) to the train wreck of Team Jonathan & Victoria. Jonathan is a complete prick who spends every second on camera verbally abusing his wife. Victoria displays all the signs of victim of battered wife syndrome, seemingly unable to stand up for herself or walk away. Up until now, it’s been somewhat bearable because “TAR” needed to follow around eleven teams at the start. But with the fourth team eliminated last night, the pack is diluted and viewers are forced to witness more and more of Team Dysfunction every week. “TAR” and CBS made a real mistake bringing on Jonathan who has all the markings of a half-crazed cocaine fiend who needs to win the money so he can pay off the Russian mafia before they cut his legs off. (Although that’s the kind of reality television I can get behind).

Now for the update:

The teams started out from Goree Island in Senegal on the west coast of Africa. Their first stop was the Slave House which was the final embarkation point for many slaves before they were taken from Africa. All the teams had to pay tribute by placing a rose at the doorway through which the slaves passed. At least one team had the sense to stop to say a prayer; most other teams were silent. Team Gus and Hera – the black team – had to hold up for a second because Gus got very emotional. Later he admitted that he didn’t cry at the funerals of either his mother or father, but this experience caught him unawares.

Afterward, Team Don and Mary Jean have a problem. Since they came in last on the previous show, but it was a non-elimination leg of the race, they have no money for transportation (ferry) off the island. They can’t possibly ask the Senegalese for a handout, so they ask the other teams if they can pitch in a couple dollars and they all oblige. (You see, Jonathan? It’s only a race.) Everybody heads to the airport because we’re off to Berlin, Germany.

After the Berlin Wall and an old church, teams hit the Detour: “Brats or Beer.” Teams must either go to a sausage factory and make five feet of sausage or a bar where they must carry large steins of beer and collect five coasters. Teams Kris & Jon, Freddy & Kendra, Hayden (wearing a tank top again!) & Aaron, and Gus & Hera serve beer. Teams Dysfunctional, Gus & Hera, Lori & Bolo, Adam & Rebecca, and (eventually) Don & Mary Jean make sausage. The only thing worth noting here is that Gus really likes beer. He kept taking sips from the mugs he was supposed to be delivering and then pulls the old “You go on ahead, I need to get my bag” trick so he can take another drink. Hera is not amused and eventually piles him into a cab.

Roadblock: Teams head to a mountain outside Berlin where they must speed down a course in soap box racers. Nobody fails to do it in less than 37 seconds (the required time) and then it’s off to the Pit Stop: the Brandenburg Gate. At this roadblock we learn that Jonathan loves speed and “owns a Ferrari.” I’m sure he also has a really long powerboat and a stereo with huge speakers…if you know what I mean.

All the teams head to the Pit Stop pretty much in the order they left the soap box derby. Team Dysfunctional leaves first so it looks like they’ll capture first place for once. What follows was both the most satisfying, yet disturbing, moment in the Race so far. After the teams get out of the cabs, they have to run about 100 yards to the Brandenburg Gate and victory. Jonathan is stepping out of the cab to his constant refrain of “Move it!” when he sees Freddy and Kendra’s taxi pulling up.

He f----n’ freaks out.

I mean he goes ape s—t. The abusive screaming at Victoria to move faster than the speed of light was simply otherworldly, as if the fate of the galaxy depended on them reaching Phil Keoghan first. “Move it! Run! Drop your bag!” Victoria breaks down in sobs: “My bag is so much heavier than yours!” Panicked at the approach of either the Russian Mafia or the Headless Horseman, Jonathan drops his bag and runs ahead, but Victoria won’t drop hers as the combination of crying and running leaves her gasping for breath. Germans all around are staring in puzzlement and disgust, proportions depending on their understanding of the English language.

Team Freddy and Kendra zip ahead of Team Dysfunctional and host Phil declares them team #1. Seconds later an annoyed Jonathan drops his pack dramatically as Phil declares them team #2. Victoria is a complete basket case at this point and stumbles away while an uncaring Jonathan starts sputtering something about the race. Behind Phil’s eyes you can see him thinking: “What an a—hole” but he says something like “You should take care of Victoria.”

At this point, let’s review some of the “characteristics of the batterer” from this page on Battered Wife Syndrome:
Publications and newsletters from women's shelters and psychologists around the nation note the consistent traits of batterers to be as follows:

1) possessive, jealous; 2) controlling behavior; 3) externalizes blame; 4) hyper-sensitive; 5) low self-esteem; 6) believes in and desires very traditional male-female roles; 7) displaces anger; 8) lacks empathy; 9) comes from a violent background; 10) Jekyll/Hyde personality; and 11) overuse of drugs or alcohol.
Check and check. Should I let my kids (aged 7 & 9) watch last night’s episode and expose them to this filth? Or would it be better to show them the wrong way for a man to act? Or should I just fast-forward and skip the parts with the Wife-Beater? I’m leaning towards a stern lecture on how a real man behaves, delivered both before and after the show.

Anyway, the pretty teams take the next couple spots and Team Wrestlers (Lori & Bolo) stay alive as Team #7 to the Pit Stop. However, Team Don & Mary Jean can’t keep pace with the youngsters and become the fourth team eliminated from the race.

Footnote: I normally try to avoid profanity on this blog, but there was no other adequate way to describe that festering pustule of monkey dung. CBS goofed big time.


Wendy said...

I wanted to reach into the TV and pull her out. I thought it was interesting that when he got behind her for a short time, he whined and said he just couldn't do it. She didn't berate him at that time.

Also, a few weeks ago, he was yelling at her and raised his arm in a gesture. She flinched and put her arms up to her face. I have no doubt that he's a wife beater.

How did he pass the psychological evaluation? Even worse--their bio says they disagree on having children. HE wants them. I hope she wins that battle.

Bruce said...

I'm hoping Bolo picks him up next week and wrings him out like a washcloth.

What a jackass!

Dr. Eirik said...

Everyone who watches this show at my office wants to send a letter to CBS telling them how much they hate to watch this guy. My wife, who at best was a tepid watcher of the show, now refuses to watch it ever again.

Whoever cast this guy really screwed up.

I had heard at some point that there was a major rules change that came after they filed TAR5/6 (which were filmed one after the other). At first I figured that it had something to do with the splitting of the detours, but what nagged at me is the person who posted about it (I think on the Television without Pity boards) had made it sound like the rules change was the result of some unpleasentness that occured while filming 6, which was never specified. Speculation at the time was that it would have something to do with TAR racers violating traffic laws. I wonder now, assuming this information is true, if something more seriously with Team Dysfunction...

jaws said...

Can't they forceably DQ Jonathan or something. I only caught the second half of the show, but I just wanted to beat him down!

Fausta said...

While I watched the episode, I was wondering what your post would look like!
As far as disqualifying the despicable Jonathan, there's already evidence on tape that he's hit her. Since that would be at least a misdemeanor, why not kick him out of the game??

PS, loved Gus with the beer. How about the wrestler guy, eating the raw sausage -- yeck!

Gary said...

Our family, like yours, enjoys sharing The Amazing Race - for the same reasons as yours. Our kids' ages are similar to yours with one younger. We won't be letting the kids watch the tape of this episode. We've already given the "stern lecture on how a real man behaves" during and after virtually every show this season, but this one was just too much. It was abuse and I don't think my kids need to see that at this age.

CBS should have disqualified Jon & Victoria somehow after this disgusting display.

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Jonathon is horrible but what is more horrible is that we all sit here and write things about this "man" and it has no impact. Can't we all write to CBS and tell them that this is unacceptable. Let's make a difference and not allow CBS to think that people like this make a show exciting to watch. In all actuality it has turned many of us off.

Anonymous said...

Hi -- thanks for writing this. I've been a huge fan of TAR -- it's a very interesting show that exposes you to a lot of interesting cultures. I don't have children, but I can understand those of you who do enjoy the show as a family.

I was disappointed when CBS did not address the "shoving" incent in this week's show. I have no problem when people willing go on television and make a fool of themselves -- but when people are being exploited and the corporation is making money off of it -- that's where I think it crosses the line. Clearly this woman is in a bad situation and CBS should not be making money off of it.

John said...

First off.. what is the problem you people.. if you would suggest The Amazing Race as great teaching tool for your kids about geography, history and sociology... get your kid a book.. you remember those right.. books. It isn't my business to tell people how to raise their kids.. but using a reality TV show as a teaching tool is a bit dumb.

The television is not what it was, the shows are different now than they were a decade ago.. and the Amazing Race is a Reality show.. no different than the Real World that started on MTV all those years ago.. it shows us the all sorts of things.. but the main thing is, it shows us people at their WORST.

I agree with everyone here.. the abuse thing is a little out of hand, but so be it. It's entertainment... and I don't feel bad for Victoria, because she should get out of it.. does she..NO! Her problem.. I am sure that CBS had a gold mine when they saw the way they were behaving.. PEOPLE...ITS REALITY TV.. GET OVER IT ALREADY.. if you are offended.. change the channel.. if not.. enjoy it for what it is... entertainment.

I apoligise if I offend anyone, it is not my intention..

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