Thursday, January 30, 2014
I know, I know. Cheering on others is the proper thing to do. But eventually the day comes when you just get tired of slaving away for no visible reward, while the pile of shit you’re wading through just gets higher and deeper. Sooner or later you realize there’s no point in going on, and you’d be doing yourself and everybody else a favor if you just pack it in.
What, me? Oh heavens, no. I’m not giving up. I’m addicted to writing. It may take me forever to finish something, but the process itself is a rush. Even if I don’t get paid much, or ever, it sure as hell beats working.
I’m talking about Dr. Phil McGraw.
I admit to watching Dr. Phil, for the same reason I read Dear Abby: it makes me feel better knowing there are people out there with worse problems who are more screwed up than I am. Phil found himself a niche and milked it—the no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is shrink who pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. His appearances on Oprah were so popular he graduated to his own show. He’s been helping people and putting verbs in his sentences for roughly a dozen years now.
If you ask me, it’s starting to wear on him.
I think it was last season when I started to notice a change in Phil’s demeanor. He seems to be losing patience with his guests. He gets a little snappy. He comes across as more judgmental. More and more I see him sitting on stage like this:
Yep, looks like the doctor’s had his Phil. Can you blame him? A dozen years of this, and the mountain of crazy still towers ahead of him, not one half-inch lower. The names change, the faces change, but it’s still the same crapola—cheating spouses, abusive spouses, pregnant teens, liars, jerks, and every permutation of dysfunction under the sun, every one of them clinging to their personal idiocy while pointing fingers at the people around them and yelping the same thing: “I’m right and they’re all wrong. Tell them, Dr. Phil!”
Apparently nobody’s been watching his show for the last dozen years. Or if they have, they’ve learned nothing. Each show is like a rerun of a hundred others before it. The woman comes on and claims the man is lying. The man says the woman is lying. Neither remembers doing anything wrong. Neither feels responsible for the problem—it’s the other person’s fault. Not one ever asks, “What can I do to fix this?” Fixing it is Phil’s job. And when he tells them what needs to be done, that they need to shape up and change their ways, you can see the resistance, the automatic rejection of any advice that even hints they might be mistaken. Because THEY aren’t the problem. Can’t he see that?
He can see the problem, all right. You can see it in his body language. I think even he’s getting sick of spouting the same catch phrases show after show after show. They’re just falling on deaf ears anyway.
I’d love to know what his success rate is, what percentage of people he’s actually been able to help over the years. I’m guessing it’s not very high. You can lead a horse to water, etc., etc. Nothing’s ever going to get any better for these idjits until they decide to change. Good luck with that.
I keep waiting for the day when some woman starts crying, “You’re an abuser and a liar,” and the man swears, “I never touched you, you’re a liar and a manipulator,” and Phil just gets up and goes, “Y’know what? Fuck this. Y’all can solve your own damn problems. C’mon, Robin, we’re out’a here,” and walks off the stage. Wouldn’t that be a helluva show!
Maury Povich, at least, has recognized the futility of trying to save humanity from itself. These days almost all his shows feature lie-detector tests and DNA results. He’s been doing that for years and has yet to run low on guests.
If Phil doesn’t announce his retirement this year, I’m betting he will in the near future. You can only slam your head against a wall for so long before it finally dawns on you the wall’s always going to win. Human nature hasn’t changed in thousands of years, and it’s not about to, not even at Phil’s insistence. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, Phil. How’s it working for you?
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I want to apologize to everybody for all my whining about procrastination and not writing and all that crap last week. I had a cold. The near-constant low-level sinus headache that came with it made me edgy. I’m going to do my damnedest to finish something in February so I can start subbing again. I’m not sure what I can blame once my nose dries up. Maybe I’ll blame Dr. Phil. That hour he’s on is an hour when I could be writing. You heard me, baldy. It’s your fault.