Views on politics and current events

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The broadcast of ABC's 20/20 on October 6th was part of an ongoing series on the 7 deadly sins. The theme of this program was 'Sloth'.

I was a part of that program. A 4-man camera crew, a producer and an interviewer were at my house for 6 hours. They interviewed me for 2 hours, my wife for 1 hour, took extensive footage of various activities we do. The result? There was none of my wife's interview used, and about 2 minutes of my interview used which was interspersed with a story about a 12-year college student whooping it up. As far as the 12-year college student? We all have our lives to live as we see fit, the 'American Work Ethic' be damned. Most of the segment about him focused on his 'good time Charlie' attitude, with but a very short section that told how he plays guitar in a band for money, and that he has a hollywood agent. The implication was of course that he's a bum. Seems to me he's paying his own way, so who cares if he has a life filled with good times?

I was misled as to the premise of the show itself. As the interview took place two weeks before broadcast, the premise of the show was already set. If I knew that the show was to be about 'Sloth', I would not have agreed to the interview. My understanding was that the interview was to be used to inform people that I have chosen retirement over the current workplace, and what has forced me to make that decision. When the interview questioned me as to why I don't 'flip burgers' at a fast-food restaurant, the only footage used was my comment "I don't want to flip burgers". Whomever edited the footage decided not to use what I said prior to that comment. That because of age discrimination and the fact that I am a former union member, the chances I would be hired are practically nil.

It is not out of ego or any sense of being-on-television-euphoria that I complain. I don't care about any notoriety. It is that I was mis-led, that the program did nothing but reinforce an 'American Work Ethic' that on the surface means that you must work hard, work long hours, live the American dream. But dig into this ethic a little deeper. Here is what I see:

  • If you are of the working class, you must work. Whether the work you find pays your bills or suits your needs doesn't matter. To avoid the 'sin' of sloth, you MUST work.
  • If you are of the working class, realize that you owe the wealthy a debt of gratitude for giving you the opportunity to work. Without them, you are even less than you already are.
  • If you are of the working class and want to improve your lot in life, there will be many barriers. And rightly so. There's nothing more disgusting than someone that does not 'know their place'. It can be done, but it's mighty difficult to improve your lot in life when most of your time is taken up by working at jobs that only provide you with a subsistance existence. But don't complain. Remember, you are the burden of the wealthy, and be grateful.
  • If you are of the working class and lose your job, understand that it is your fault. Entirely. You did not work hard enough, weren't loyal enough.
  • If you are of the working class and can't find a decent paying job, that's your fault too. You aren't smart enough, ambitious enough, worthy enough. Your labor is just another market commodity, and if the market deems your labor not worthy of a decent wage, it must be true. And if you used to work in a decent paying union job, forget it. The unions were the cause of plant closings because they were too powerful and demanded wages and benefits beyond the true value of labor.
  • If you are of the working class and don't work? There is a special place for you in hell. You will be thrown into a pit of snakes, so sayeth the Lord.
The 20/20 interview was an interesting experience. The technical crew was very professional and courteous. They worked non-stop the entire time, and transformed my front porch and most of the house into a television studio. The producer and interviewer were also courteous, but less than honest in their intentions. The bottom line is that whenever you deal with a show such as 20/20, you are at the mercy of the executives of the show, the editors of the footage, and of the actual premise of the show that is not honestly discussed beforehand.

I will give them credit for teaching me some things about the sloth (the animal) that I didn't know. But the rest of the show was a waste of time. As for the plight of labor in this country, ABC 20/20 has shown that all they are interested in is the perpetuation of the 'American Work Ethic' in a futile attempt at improving their ratings. If the show broadcast on October 6th is any indication, their ratings will continue to go in the tank. And deservedly so.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Beggerow, I've seen this show, and I am writing to you again. First time I wrote to you after David Brook's article, that made me very angry. But it had explained to me why I often felt offended by my employers and the system in general, and why other workers were not - it must be aristocratic values talking and distracting me from embracing the right work ethics. As for this edition of 20/20 - after 14 years in this country I am still surprised that the employer's point of view is considered to be the only valuable point of view, and very often workers identify themselves with employer or consumer at best, not the worker. The way they showed your segment was dishonest and obviously suiting their own agenda. I was happy to see you anyway, because I feel that you are a rare example of dignity and selfrespect in the world of brainwashed. I especially enjoied the part where the French tried to explain their life style - looks like 20/20 people lack the part of the brain nessesary to comprehend this kind of ideas. Your statement that your time is valuable to you is too much for them. What are you doing? Playing the piano? Reading a book? What makes you think you have a right to play the piano? You are paying you bills? It is not enough, you have to make profits for somebody else. Don't! Enjoy your life! Read the book! Sleep in the morning!(it is my idea of happiness - not having to get up early). Write you reviews!
I wish you all the best, and I hope that your wife's health is improving.

Alan Beggerow said...

Thank you so much for your kind words. There is more to life than what the great American Work Ethic would allow us. I wish you good luck and happiness!

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