Political process due for makeover

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Man has always liked to demolish things.

How else can you explain the excitement on "Extreme Home Makeover," a show with a huge budget and an army of construction workers who practically tear down a deserving family's home and rebuild it bigger and better than ever.

Everyone wants to take a sledgehammer to their house at some time in their life. This television show makes it a reality, all the while entertaining millions of Americans who wish someone would tear into their walls and turn their homes into castles.

Admittedly, those who get this televised makeover are deserving folks with handicapped children or a house that was damaged by a drunken driver who crashed his SUV into the house, barely missing the baby.

In the latter case, the heavily remodeled house now has automatic column barriers that pop out of the ground to prevent any car from ever crashing into their home again.

It's all part of "reality television" and judging from the vast number of home improvement shows on TV, Americans can't get enough of this fix-up craze.

Of course, it helps to have the shows' designers on hand to help transform the houses into stylish homes.

Our family loves the show. Becca and Bailey may have trouble cleaning up their rooms at times, but they have no trouble making time to watch televised home destruction and reconstruction.

I don't own a sledgehammer, but judging from what I've seen on this show, maybe I should buy one.

TV remodeling has become so common that shows are now making over not just houses but people. Plastic surgery has become part of reality television.

There are shows that will cut, dye and shampoo your hair and give you a whole new wardrobe, and even a new face.

As Americans, we love anything that is new and improved. It's what attracts us to these shows.

And we don't want lengthy makeovers. We want it fast.

It's tearing it down and rebuilding it in seven days that gets us excited. Better yet, we can watch it all unfold in a single hour of television.

All this excitement over "reality television" has me wondering if the essential factors in such entertainment can't be applied to presidential election campaigns.

Let's face it. Presidential politics has become boring with the major candidates repeating the same 30-second sound bites over and over again.

Maybe we could turn presidential elections into reality TV shows. The Republican and Democratic parties would be given an equal amount of money to spend on physical improvements to the candidates -- everything from new hair styles to plastic surgery. They would be given money to buy new suits and ties. Then viewers would be asked to vote on which candidate looked the most presidential.

The winner would get an extreme home makeover. It's about time someone redid the White House.

Admittedly, this approach would eliminate the need for candidates to talk about the issues. But since candidates today are largely defined by how they appear on television, turning the whole election process into a TV makeover would certainly polish up politics.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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