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The Biggest Gain - Input Junkie
February 6th, 2014
03:03 pm

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The Biggest Gain
Ragen Chastain has a piece about the real motivation behind The Biggest Loser being money.

Much as I like Chastain's blog, it's the sort of statement I always disagree with because, as Gandalf said, you can't burn snow, and as I say, you can only make money by building on existing motivations.

Admittedly, people have a lot of different motivations, and if you're trying to make money, you have choices about which motivations you try to appeal to.

Everyone associated with The Biggest Loser is making money by appealing to cruelty. That's it. They don't want to see fat people doing something sensible to lose weight, they want to see physical and emotional pain.

So, I was noodling about that, and hating the human race, and I posted:
If there were money in watching methods that involved good sense and kindness, that’s what reality shows would be about. Sign me up for that universe, it doesn’t seem to be this one.
And Jennifer Hansen said:
I’ve said it before: I want to be enjoying the 20th season of a show called The Biggest Gain. In this week’s episode we meet Ahmina, who is trying to overcome her fear of falling through the water (yes, this is a thing, my husband and I both have it) in order to learn to swim at age 33; Bob, a veteran who is coming out of a long spell of depression after becoming a paraplegic and wants to regain as much as possible of his former physical fitness; Charlene, who is battling agoraphobia; and Darius, a minor-league baseball player who turned down a non-athletic scholarship in order to follow his dream. By the end of this run, Ahmina will be able to float calmly in the deep end of the pool although swimming without a flotation device still activates her panic reflex, Bob will triumphantly lift his entire body weight for 10 reps using the armrests of his chair as braces, Charlene will be filmed reading a book in the local park for the first time since the bullying she experienced as a child drove her indoors, and Darius will have decided to become a machinist’s apprentice due to a job loss in his family. All four will be praised for their courage and relate their new insights in in-depth interviews, and Ahmina’s tears of joy when she realizes that the water really is holding her up will go viral on Youtube. All expenses are paid for the contestants, but viewers will vote on who gets the $250,000 prize for the Biggest Gain.
You know, I think a show like that could work. It's not like upworthy is going broke, and it would be cheaper to make than The Biggest Loser. I don't think it would make The Biggest Loser go away, but at least it would exist and do some good.

If you're feeling as though The Biggest Loser isn't that bad because people know what they're getting into, well, not entirely. The show obfuscates what it's doing before contestants sign up. It's not exactly coerced, but it's something in the neighborhood of fraud.

As Twistie points out in the comments at Dances with Fat, we hear from past contestants from other reality shows, but contestants from The Biggest Loser just ..... disappear from the public eye. I hope it's no worse than them regaining the weight and being afraid of the insults they'd get for doing so, but I suspect there are some serious health problems as well. And they signed scary contracts to not disclose how they were really treated on the show.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1034028.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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[User Picture]
From:supergee
Date:February 6th, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
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Blogging this; thanx
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From:captain_button
Date:February 7th, 2014 01:14 pm (UTC)
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cracked.com had an article:

5 Depressing Realities Behind Popular Reality TV Shows
#5. No One from The Biggest Loser Can Keep the Weight Off

http://www.cracked.com/article_20299_5-depressing-realities-behind-popular-reality-tv-shows.html

It links to an TODAY.com article:
'Biggest Loser': Where are they now?

Which shows mixed results.

http://www.today.com/id/40423712/ns/today-entertainment/t/biggest-loser-where-are-they-now/#.UOXEbm-CkrV

[User Picture]
From:nancylebov
Date:February 7th, 2014 07:16 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. I still suspect many of the Biggest Loser contestants have fallen through the cracks, but it's worth knowing that some of them seem to have maintained all or most of the weight loss and seem healthy.
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From:tigerbright
Date:February 8th, 2014 01:07 am (UTC)
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I like this idea.

FaceOff (on SyFy) is kinda this; all these people are building their movie makeup careers and end up planning to work together again.
From:paulshandy
Date:February 8th, 2014 02:58 am (UTC)
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You also live in a universe that was sadistic enough to think "Don Quixote" is a comedy and to give us "Firefly" and then snatch it away...
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