Sunday, October 23, 2005

Move That Bus!

Extreme Makeover: Wichita Edition came to town this past week. It was fascinating for our community to see a house go up in 5 days. From the laying of the foundation to the planting of the last mum, the crowds that gathered to watch and volunteer got what they came for: A touching, emotional resolution to a deserving family's plight. (The featured family's Rose Hill, KS home was destroyed in a propane blast earlier this year.)

It is amazing what can be done with a plan and a purpose! And what around-the-clock activity can accomplish. Nearly 2,000 people chanted "Move That Bus" as the house was 'revealed' today (the show will air in about a month). Such excitement, applause, patting of backs. So why stop there? Why not go next door and help that neighbor, and then the next one, and the next? After all, aren't there other deserving families in need of assistance?

The answer is, of course there are. Would that everyone were as fortunate as those picked by Ty Pennington and the ABC home crew (I know, I know, Ty doesn't pick 'em). But I guess that's my point. What's truly behind the choosing of this (or any) show's participants? Without taking anything away from this particular family, shouldn't we step back and at least explore some of the underlying themes of what we just saw happen this past week?

Themes like: The Lottery Mentality - "You have to be lucky to get ahead."
Or, Vicarious Living - Where television characters become part of our reality.
Or, in it's worst form, Voyeurism - When we get our thrills watching others debase themselves, a la Jerry Springer.

I'm not saying that any of these motivations should be attached to the Kansas edition of this exciting event. But, in general, isn't there an inherent concern that, in our media-saturated culture, we might simply be actors in our own Truman Show? I fear that we might believe ourselves to be stars, but in reality we let others produce our lives and determine our roles.

  • For the full week of coverage by the Wichita Eagle, visit
  • Comment posted on WE Blog.


    1. You hit the nail on the head. These episodes always bring a tear to the eye, but behind that tear should be another, for every other family out there, equally deserving but not blessed with the resources that a lucky TV spot affords. And it often seems that the resources devoted are lavish and extreme. The work of Habitat for Humanity serves as a better example of helping our neighbors and as one reader noted on the WE blog, Habitat receives very little publicity. Extreme Makeover is another example of Hollywood doing a good job of impressing itself, imho.

    2. Thanks Gwynne, appreciate the reference to Habitat for Humanity. Great organization, not very recognized. But maybe that's better. Less flair, more impact.

      But, oh, if this post is too serious for KS readers, then visit IMAO and read the Fun Facts About Kansas...

    3. Thanks for the link to the Kansasian fun facts. Quite funny. :-) He left off the World's Largest Prairie Dog though. No wonder tourism isn't what it could be.