Monday, April 14, 2008

What Were You Thinking Vol 1: Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil totally screwed the pooch.

For a man who bills himself as a trustworthy, responsible motivator he really knows how to make himself look like a creep whoring out his credentials for ratings. Dr. Phil will not say which member of his staff green-lighted the bright idea to bail a bunch of teenagers out of jail for beating up a girl, but one can assume they all imagined giant advertising revenue and media buzz once they put all of those violent little delinquents on teevee. After all, the smack-down video went viral. Well, they’re half-right. The media and me are having a field day, but not for the reasons they desired.

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I included myself into the equation because I hate Dr. Phil. Always have. This is schadenfreude I can savor. Like a warm pie. He crawled up Oprah’s asshole, acting all, “Oh – I’m so totally a doctor. And I can change your life!” In reality, he didn’t have the patience to be a real psychologist so he started selling his ass to lawyers, to help them fill their jury pools with sympathetic faces. Oprah needed some lawyering a while ago, and Dr. Phil helped her squad fill the jury with – you guessed it – people who are Oprah-rific. Maybe she could have won on her own merits, without all of the hoo-doo and shrinking. We’ll never know thanks to Dr. Phil, your friendly down-home jury-stacking crackpot. He did such a good job, she gave him a talk show.

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My friends out there who practice psychology (and those of you who support their good work) have nothing to fear about my feelings for Dr. Phil. You, and people like you, have credentials and compassion. You are dedicated. Dr. Phil isn’t in your league.

I have watched his show enough to have formed a reasonable opinion. He casts guests that he can bully and break easily. Dr. Phil picks obvious lay-abouts and sociopaths any jerk could tear down. Once he rips them a new one they are stuck with a camera in their face and so they say, “I want to behave! I want to be better!” because sociopaths are not idiots and even they want to look salvageable on daytime TV. It’s all win-win. He looks like a bona fide guru and his guests get to look redeemable. Checks get cashed, ratings come in and everyone is happy.

Everyone except for a girl who got beat up because of junior high gossip. She was beaten so badly that she may never regain full hearing and her own father didn’t recognize her in the emergency room. I wonder how she feels, knowing that the people who assaulted her were bailed out of their punishment for a ratings stunt? The perpetrators know the girl’s name, where she lives and where she goes to school.

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Whatever good intentions were to come of this are inexplicable at best, and so stupidly ham-handed and demoralizing that any positive results have been 100% wiped out. I feel bad for that girl. I am sorry her parents have to explain these things and pick up the pieces.

Before you defend Dr. Phil and blame his staff, just remember that he has not released the names of the person who authorized bail money. That person is being protected by the good doctor and his network (“No official comment.”). For all we know, Dr. Phil authorized this mess. What kind of doctor would do that? Kinda makes people wonder whom to trust.

I never like people who use their professional title with their first name. It’s too cheesy to ever be taken seriously, and now I have proof.