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Reality Check, Please!

2 Jul, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

I'm getting confused again. This time it's about programming.

I thought most of us had had our fill of reality programming, but some things are just too hard to shake.

I suppose there will always be a market for things like “Jackass” and the underground extensions like Backyard Wrestling and Bumfights: A Cause For Concern.

The thing that has me confused today is where we all draw the line. I'm a bit baffled about how we can prosecute the producers of Bumfights (Ryan McPherson, 19, Zachary Bubeck, 25, and Daniel Tanner, 21) – who, incidentally, were recently put on probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine, then pay an actor to do many of the same deranged stunts.

So why are networks paying Shannen Doherty to host “Scare Tactics,” which one of my friends termed “a lawsuit waiting for a plaintiff,” and the latest show, “I'm With Busey”?

I'll admit, I've only watched “Busey” once, and it confirmed everything I suspected. It would be easy to just rename this show “Celebrity Bumfights,” since most of it seems to center on actor Gary Busey's harassing and tormenting hapless non-celebrity guests who, most likely, signed up for the show just to get their 15 minutes of fame or because some people will do anything – and these shows make it clear that's anything – to meet a celebrity.

The three Bumfights producers pleaded guilty in May to a misdemeanor count of conspiring to stage an illegal fight. Can somebody tell me why we shouldn't level the same charges against the producers on “Scare Tactics” and “I'm With Busey?”

No doubt sooner or later, someone will.

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