I don’t know if it’s my television viewing habits, or if it’s the summer season, but every time I turn on Channel 9 or Gem, there seems to be an episode of “Embarrassing Illnesses” (or one of the associated spin-off programs). Are they strip programming it at the moment?
I can’t recall exactly the first time I saw one of these programs, but I suspect it was late at night and I suspect I was channel surfing looking for something, anything to watch. Click, click, click, click. And then suddenly, there was a rather cute bloke – Dr Christian Jessen – who had just asked an equally cute bloke to drop his pants. “I think I’d better take a look at your penis”, he would have said, I’m sure.
“Hang on, I might stay around on this channel and watch this for a while”, I’m sure I would have thought to myself, only to discover a few seconds later the attractive bloke had some awful condition of the “private parts”. Something not quite right. Maybe something was a little bent? Something was, maybe, a little too large or a little too small? Or perhaps he’d had some unexpected and unwelcome visitors?
And then again a few minutes later, there’s someone under surgery, or someone with some awful skin condition on their bum. It’s not what you would call “polite television”. It’s not something you’d expect Mel and Kochie to host, is it?
But it’s actually quite a good show both in its concept and execution. I love the way they’ve taken lots of taboo subjects and have tried to normalize them, to make it okay to talk about stuff that affects many people, but which we don’t talk about. I think it’s fantastic they’ll address medical conditions which obviously cause people deep shame, and which often results in an avoidance of medical assistance. Sure, there’s a slightly voyeuristic quality about the program, but I think it’s great that they show people with these conditions, and show there’s a potential solution.
I don’t quite understand how English people go on the program. I mean, they have the National Health Service which, eventually, means their condition can be dealt with. But I guess there’s a degree of individual exhibitionism going on in the UK as well as the USA. Programs like Jerry Springer would struggle to work in Australia because of the shame factor, but I guess the UK is large enough to sustain a population of people for whom that wouldn’t be an issue. Personally, I would never go on a program like this, and I would never expose my personal, private illnesses on television, and I would never – intentionally – flash my tackle on national television, even if it meant speedy, safe surgery. But some people are happy to do this, and I guess we should all be grateful for that.
The program, of course, concentrates on physical conditions. It would be interesting to see them deal with mental illness, for example, though the treatment would obviously be far more complex and long-term than chopping off a bit of foreskin (which is not a good idea at the best of times in my humble opinion), I guess.
Yes, a good show. But what’s going on right now? Why is it that every time I turn on some late night television there’s someone with some awful scabby condition on their bum?