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The cost of a conscience

February 7th, 2005

Dr Petra

It’s awful having a conscience. You tell yourself that it’ll help you sleep at night. It means you’re virtuous. But everyone else thinks you’re completely insufferable.

My conscience has led to my fiancé and I playing a regular game when watching TV. It’s called ‘that could have been our new bathroom suite if you weren’t so bloody up yourself’.

The game goes a bit like this. A TV show comes on that I’ve been approached to do, but I turned down for various reasons. Maybe the programme makers wanted me to talk about celebrities, or issues that are outdated or outside my area of research. Maybe the idea is unethical, it misleads or coerces people, or requires me to be judgemental about other people’s lifestyles.

But despite me telling them my reservations, or providing information that their show may not be cutting edge or responsible, the programme will still get made.

Either TV companies don’t care who they get to be on their show, so long as someone does as they say; or they do care about who they pick to front their programme, but aren’t able to find the right expert for the job.

The result is either completely unqualified people presenting shows, or stunningly qualified people fronting programmes that are either outside their area of expertise, or are dodgy ethically.

Perhaps TV companies see it this way: Are you an expert in fertility? Well, you must be a very clever scientist, and therefore also be capable of presenting programmes about the human mind. Are you a medical doctor who advises on a health show? Then you must be skilled enough to deconstruct the hidden body language of celebrities.

Programmes continue to be made, and while over or under qualified presenters are associated with them, those truly qualified to speak won’t get a look in, or won’t take part in future ventures after getting all huffy that someone else they didn’t like presented a previous show.

Or they’ll be like me, saying no because something either isn’t in their area, or it is in their area but is ethically unsound.

Reminding companies of this doesn’t mean they take note and change the show to fit a more ethical and contemporary theme. They simply find someone who’ll say what they want.

Meanwhile our bathroom is a shambles, and I’m still cursing my conscience.

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