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  Ricki Lake: Moral Moron

Gregory Koukl
November 4, 1995

I have pretty strong feelings about TV. I satisfy those feelings, for the most part, by ignoring it.

I wish most others would as well. I only watch TV once in a while. I watch videos. Occasionally, you'll catch me watching Biography on A& E because oftentimes, if I buy some food to bring home, that's what's on when I'm ready to sit down and eat. That's it. I'm not into network TV whatsoever.

Every once in a while, though, for one reason or another, I stumble upon something. This first occasion of stumbling upon a particular show that I'm going to tell you about happened last week when I was at a friend's house. She's married and has kids and I just happened to catch a portion of this particular talk show. On the show, there was a reunion between two people. Two people who had been sweethearts in the past, had separated, and the gentleman was upset because he and his sweetheart had been apart for so long. He really wanted a reconciliation, so he arranged to meet his sweetheart on TV. The way the program works, is that the other person is invited to come to the show, yet they don't know what's going on. The first person sets it up for the audience, and then the whole thing is revolved around the sharing of something personal between two people. Everybody watches while the first one tells the audience what is going to happen, then they bring in the unsuspecting second party, the communication follows and the audience interacts with that.

The problem is, in my view, the kind of communication that goes on here, because in this particular case, there was a young man explaining how his sweetheart was now estranged, he wanted his sweetheart back and on and on and on. They call his sweetheart in. His sweetheart, if you haven't guessed it already, is another man. An older man. The young man is 24, the older man is 33 or 35. The younger man pulls out a teddy bear and a bouquet of roses from underneath his chair, walks over, hands the teddy bear and the bouquet of roses to the other man--his lover--throws his arms around him and kisses him on the neck. They embrace. They come back and sit down and then the one basically proposes to the other in front of an admiring audience. This is called the Ricki Lake Show.

. . .if you are one of the voyeurs who watches that show on a regular basis, shame on you.

If there are some of you out there who are listening and you say, "Oh, yeah, I know just what you're talking about," shame on you. Unless you know what I'm talking about because you also just happened to stumble upon that show. But if you are one of the voyeurs who watches that show on a regular basis, shame on you. I have never seen a more disgusting display of applause of immorality, or a more disgusting display of emotional rape of human beings as I saw that day.

By the way, when I was at my friend's house, the mom was aware of what was going on, kind of in the background, that the kids were watching this show. I was disgusted, after I saw what happened on the show. I walked out of the room and I said "I can't take this. It's so disgusting to me." Mom said, "Yeah, it's really awful. I don't know how people can watch that." I turned around and said to Mom, "It's your TV." For some reason, she got the idea that she had no control over what her teenage children were watching. Everybody was turning up their noses, yet they were all watching and giving their point of view, instead of reaching over and just turning that blasted thing off. If you watch enough of that stuff, it starts to change the way you think.

Then there was Thursday. Thursday I went out running. I usually do about 15 minutes of crunchies after I run, so I turn on the TV to keep my mind off my abdomen. There was, low and behold, Ricki Lake again. I caught it at the point when they were telling the audience what they were setting up. Here's a lady, telling the audience that she is about to break up with her boyfriend. He lives 1500 hundred miles away. He's getting prepared to make a move to move in and live with her. He's in the booth with headphones on and he doesn't know what is going on. They cut away to his picture on occasion, sitting stupidly and mutely in the booth. The girl goes on to explain how she has a life to live, she doesn't love him anymore, she has changed in the last month and a half since she's been separated from him, and now she is in love with someone else. She thinks this is too important a thing to communicate on the telephone so she wants to tell him in person--in front of millions of people. He gets the signal to come on down. He gets out of the booth, sits down in one of the chairs, and nods to everybody else. Everyone is clapping and applauding. This poor guy doesn't know what's up. He doesn't know he's about to get axed on TV. The girl sits down and says, "You know, I really love you and you're wonderful but, you know, I found somebody else and I can't have you move out with me. We're breaking up." Then the camera zooms in on his face as you watch his lips quiver and see his jaw get set tightly as he struggles with the emotion. Poor old Ricki Lake furrows her brow and said, "Oh Billy, how do you feel?" As if she really cares. To top it all off, Ricki then said, "Let's bring on down your new sweetheart," because there are three chairs there and only two are being filled right now. Sweetheart #2 strolls in and guess who it is? It's her female roommate. So not only does the guy get axed, but he finds out that the man his girlfriend left him for is a woman. We get to watch it all as the crowd cheers on.

She thinks this is too important a thing to communicate on the telephone so she wants to tell him in person--in front of millions of people.

I frankly wish there was more clear thinking going on about moral issues, because then people wouldn't put up with moral morons like Ricki Lake. Oh, that's nasty; I'm calling her a name. No, I'm describing her. She is a moral moron. To put on a show that abuses people like this and take money for it is unconscionable. It's also unconscionable for people to watch it and enjoy it and to consider it entertainment.

And guess what? It gets worse. The next situation, as I'm sitting there doing my crunchies, continuing to watch--to be quite honest with you, for the purpose of this radio show, for the purpose of making a comment on this lunacy. After this first break up that's shown on TV, we have another one. Who's this? Well, this is a young lady whose fiancee is in the booth. She has something to share with her fiancee. What is it? I'm in love with another man and have been for three years--the whole time that I've known you. I'm breaking up with you on the show. Not only is he her fiancee, but they are scheduled to be married that Friday! She explains it all. She says she's really sorry. She tells the audience, "I don't know what to do. I just can't go through with this. I love this other guy." Blah, blah. Tremendous personal depth in these people. The poor guy is in this booth and you see his face and he has got these headsets on so he can't hear anything that is going on. Then she tells the audience, before he comes out, that he actually thinks they're on the Ricki Lake Show to get married there. Everybody knows weird things happen on the Ricki Lake Show and so maybe it's not to get axed, but for some other thing that turns out to be good. He thinks she's just asking him to get married there, that's why they're going on the Ricki Lake Show. She can't correct him because that would ruin the show, wouldn't it? So they bring this poor young man out, who must have been about 25 years old, and he, thinking as he does, strolls out onto the stage with a smile on his face, waving to the audience who applauds his entrance. "Hey, I'm doing great, hi, what's up? Hi, sweetie." He sits down next to the girl. Ricki says, "This gal has something to say to you." She turns to him, "I think you're a really nice guy, but I can't marry you. I'm in love with another man."

They're supposed to get married in a couple of days. He thinks they're going to get married on the show. Instead she is breaking up with him right there. Once again, camera zooms in. We see the quivering lip, the eyes watering, the astonishment, the hurt. We see the humiliation and the audience is enthralled. Ricki furrows her little brow and says, "Gee, how do you feel?"

. . .This is an emotional snuff film.

At the break you see a promotion for the next Ricki Lake Show. "I wouldn't sleep with you before, but now I will." That's the announcement that will be made by the guests on the next Ricki Lake. Can you believe this? Is it even possible that we're watching this on television? You see, it's not just the casual attitude about immorality. We've had a casual attitude about immorality all over the screen and the TV for a long time now. That's pass?. That's ordinary. That's not the kind of voyeurism that titillates anymore. Talking about premarital sex and adultery and homosexuality, that's old stuff. We need something more. We want to watch people's lives destroyed, actually before our eyes. This is the equivalent of an emotional snuff film. You know snuff films, the pornographic films where they actually kill somebody? This is an emotional snuff film. We get to watch it. That's why I say, "Ricki Lake, you are a moral moron," for goodness sake. She's worse than a prostitute, ladies and gentlemen. A prostitute sells her own body. But Ricki Lake isn't revealing for the world intimate details of her own life. She's not standing up there having her own emotional life bared to the world to watch herself get emotionally sliced up. That would be one bizarre thing if somebody would be willing to take money to get emotionally destroyed in front of other people. This is worse. She's getting paid to emotionally disrobe and emotionally rape other people. She's getting paid to take unsuspecting and emotionally vulnerable people and throw them to the lions. It's like the gladiators with people cheering on as they see the emotional blood flow.

You know, if you pulled a wing off a fly so you could watch it buzz around in circles on your desk, people would think that you were cruel, that you were immoral. Ricki Lake does that with human beings. She calls it entertainment. She injures them emotionally so that her watching audience can gasp and giggle and groan as these people writhe about upon her stage in emotional agony. Do you know what the irony is? Ricki Lake is an animal rights activist! Maybe we should get a porpoise and chop off one of its fins and toss it in a swimming pool and film it flailing about. Then I can go on the Ricki Lake Show and put Ricki in the isolation booth. I'll tell the audience how awful I think Ricki is and then I'll invite her out with "Ricki, I have something to show you." And then we run the clip. While she watches this hapless creature struggle and bleed, watches this wounded porpoise flop around in the pool, I can ask her, "Gee, Ricki, how do you feel?"

I'm not advocating this kind of treatment to animals, but the point is, she would obviously be more upset about that than at what she is doing. She's not upset at all. She's raking it in, ladies and gentlemen. You see, what Ricki Lake would consider to be unconscionable when done to an animal--I suspect even an insect--she does to human beings every single day. A little tear appears in her eye, she furrows her brow and she looks at this hapless creature that she has just dismembered and she says, "Ooh, how do you feel?" Then she looks at the woman who has just dismembered this poor man and she has the audacity to say, "How could you do this to this guy? He's such a nice guy."

I'll tell you how she could do it, because she was paid by Ricki Lake, the moral moron, to do it for money, for entertainment, for pleasure, for Ricki Lake's career. No, "moral moron" is not a name. It is an apt description of this disgusting display, this disgusting show.

  This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show "Stand to Reason," with Gregory Koukl. It is made available to you at no charge through the faithful giving of those who support Stand to Reason.
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"Ricki Lake: Moral Moron"
1995 Gregory Koukl
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Posted: December 29, 1995

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