I was kinda sorta watching “Dr.” Phil by accident, by which I mean I intentionally clicked and started watching “Dr.” Phil on YouTube, and I wasn’t sure exactly for whom Dr. Phil is supposed to be an provider of therapy.
I wasn’t sure, that is, until I did the math.
Did you catch that at 0:26?
DAUGHTER: I want to do porn.
MOM: What?! Then you could never be a normal less-than-brutally-sexed-on camera-type model! I have I hopes for you, honey! Also, you could contract HIV.
That was her argument. That’s the kind of parent Kylie lived under for nearly two decades, and whose influence she will continue to be plagued by for the rest of her life.
The whole inventory of her primary formative influences are there, crystallized in the mother’s hysteric logic. Case closed. Don’t even bother bringing in dad. He divorced her, which means he married her, which means he’s an ostensibly functional secret practitioner of auto-erotic asphyxiation who does what he’s told from the safety of his sad, sad cubicle.
You could stop reading now if the following diatribe were about any of these lost souls. But it’s not about them. It’s about you.
It’s always about you (read: me (I’m like you, so it’s still you, anyway)).
Watching this, I felt strangely better about myself for not being the drug-addicted anorexic 19 year-old fly-by-night pornographic actress, and even better for not being her equally anorexic and/or drug addicted and/or Olympically irresponsible parents–all three of whom Dr. Phil prods into performing a spectactular suburban freakshow in 5 acts, for which there is a chorus (audience) and omniscient narrator (“Dr.” Phil, himself).
I felt better about myself because I wasn’t them.
This was a shit reason to feel better about myself.
It’s was like visiting a Sudanese orphanage–not to help the children, or even to recognize how my privilege obligates me to be an agent of positive change–but to learn how to become more complacent with the humble wage and lifestyle I already live.
On his side of the screen, “Dr.” Phil makes lives worse. On the other side, people more comfortable with normal, socially acceptable spiritual mediocrity, and that’s where the money is.
I have a riddle for you:
A con man walks into a bank with his friend, and they both sit down.
The con man points and tells his friend to take a look at the teller counting money behind the window.
An old lady, with three kids, walks in with a stack of twenty-dollar bills walks in.
The con man makes the same gesture and the old lady.
The friend nods.
The con man and the friend get up leave the bank, laughing together, without talking to anyone. 2
Who’s the con man trying to con?
Are you lost?
Let’s try a different riddle:
There are 5 characters in this one.
1. “Dr.” Phil
2. Porno Girl
*The Question is: Who’s Dr. Phil trying heal?*
“Dr.” Phil isn’t treating the girl, and he isn’t treating the parents.
Their lives will not change. They are unchangeable.
They are the kind of humans who will take a week off of doing whatever it is they do to become part of their own 38-minute reality show in which they will definitely be framed as the worst human beings on the face of the earth.
“But I feel like maybe this could be an opportunity to learn truths about themselves and become better people after facing their problems, head on.”
But I feel like maybe you have brain damage.
They are unhealable. They cant get “better”; these people don’t even know what “better” smells like.
Tell me, what would “better” entail?
The daughter stops doing porn, and gets a job flipping burgers? Does she go to massage school? Or does she get a pity-gig as the receptionist at a family friend’s proctology clinic? At age thirty, having achieved a Prozac/Adderall/Ambien/Xanax carousel-fueled psychic equilibrium, will she find a nice financial adviser with whom she, and her counterpane of provocatively placed bird and flower tattoos, can settle down and build a family? Will she not have emotional breakdowns every quarter that will adversely shape the psychological health and worldview of her children? Will her husband exist in a constant state of terror threat-advisory level orange, in anxious anticipation the day she finally snaps, or forgets to take her pills, or cheats on him because he missed a sign that triggered something in the post-apocalyptic landscape of his wife’s inner-world, or…?
And what about her next husband, and the husband after him?
Will the kids just happen to never find this footage, which is publicly available on the first and second-largest search engines in the world…wide web?
I found it, on accident. They will find it on purpose, or worse, their friends will, and it’s off to juvenile detention for Jimmy.
So, now, we have three generations of collateral human decay from one episode of “Dr.” Phil, and can rule out 3 out of the five characters in a riddle.
“Aha! ‘Dr.’ Phil is just trying to sort out his own problems, and he uses these people as fodder for his own personal enjoyment.”
Please. “Dr.” Phil is a pro. He’s getting paid to do this shit. Try again.
“But there’s no one else in the room.”
Are you sure?
How’s “Dr.” Phil getting paid? Is it because he’s performing a valuable service to troubled human beings? Or, is the ad-funded TV network, selling your attention to Dove/Axe, Geico, Budwiser, [Local Divorce Attorney (you’ll actually need him, later down the road)], etc.?
You’re paying “Dr.” Phil because he’s providing you a service. 3
You get to feel “better” (read: not think about your shitty life), and he gets paid, and when you remember that your life sucks, you can buy tide, or All-Natural Organic Whateverthefuck from Wal-Mart, where the workers are so happy, they are the lead actors in the commercials.
Who’s the con man trying to con?
Who’s “Dr.” Phil trying to heal?
And, if his treatment fails, you’ll think it’s because you haven’t made the consumer choices.
And the world keeps spinning, and you try to Google the porn video that little girl is in.
It’s easy to find.
1. Did anyone notice how much class-A fun the daughter seems to be having?
I’m not at all surprised by it, but I just can’t really make total sense out of it. I am, however, certain that it’s significant.
3. Ask yourself: Do happy educated people in high tax brackets watch “Dr.” Phil?