[Recently by Bryanna Bevens: The Rise Of The Treason Tort]
Reality television is something akin to Danielle Steele novels. Her books have sold 530 million copies worldwide, but I have never met anyone who admits to having read one.
Every new season, however, the networks compete for the title of best new reality program. They know the average family will flock to their televisions with giant bowls of popcorn to witness the madness.
We love to proclaim our astonishment and disbelief as 'average' people swallow insects while swathed in blood and suspended by their ankles beneath a helicopter that is hovering over a tank filled with great white sharks.
We can't get enough of it.
My personal favorite: The Swan (can't wait for Swan II!!). Nine seemingly ugly women are given the opportunity to, well, not be so ugly.
They undergo rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, face-lifts, extraordinary dental surgery, liposuction and "numerous trips to the dermatologist."
All of this, we the viewing public get to witness. Although, if you are anything like me, you do so between your fingers in front of your eyes during the gory scenes.
The Swan is a production of the Fox Network, which is also responsible for the Emmy-award winning series American Idol. Yeah, I missed that one but I've seen the various "winners" at numerable ribbon cutting ceremonies in places like Wilbur, Nebraska, so it appears to be another triumph for Fox.
Well, now there is a new reality series that will give FOX and NBC a run for their money.
Gana la Verde or Win the Green was launched in early July. By the first week in August it boasted a million viewers a week, to become the second most watched program by Hispanics aged 18-49.
The Hispanic Nielsen ratings shows that Gana even defeated NBC's Fear Factor during sweeps weeks.
So why haven't more people heard of it? Is it because Gana la Verde is not produced by conglomerates such as FOX or NBC? Are the 'stunts' any less interesting than those afore mentioned reality programs?
Gana la Verde is a reality show replete with vile contests and daredevil stunts—the precise ingredients found in the recipe for ratings that TV networks adhere to. The big difference: The contestants are not American citizens competing for cash and prizes. They are illegal aliens competing for Green Cards.
No, I'm not kidding.
"Basically, six people appear every day on the show…The show is on the air five days a week, Monday through Friday. We hope to produce at least 110 shows a year, and those six people go through a series of physical challenges culminating in a job challenge and here is one final winner who, at the end of the program, wins one year's worth of legal assistance in their immigration case before the INS."
What's Wrong With 'Win The Green'? Aug. 26, 2004
I have two questions.
The Early Show also asked this question, to which Mr. Liberman responded:
"Every person on the show meets with four different people on our program and, in the course of that interview process and prescreening process, they have a waiver that they review and read in Spanish. It's 20 pages or so. In there, they represent they're 18 years or older. They represent that they're legal residents of the United States. So from our perspective and from the show's perspective, the participants are legally in the United States."
Whew! What a relief! I was afraid the network just took the contestant's word for it.
But what if the contestant (don't laugh, it is possible) is already a citizen? No worries, The Early Show reports that Mr. Liberman has a plan B:
"He also notes one of the perks of his reality show is that people who participate can transfer the prize to a friend or family member who is in need of legal service."
Good to know.
My second question:
I would think the set of Gana la Verde was a target-rich environment for immigration agents.
But alas, what do I know?
Besides, Liberman has already thought of that.
Enter the entertainment lawyer; the scoundrel who is always prepared to defend the insanity of Hollyweird.
Richard Sherman Esq. was retained by Liberman to facilitate legal representation for the winners of Gana la Verde and he acknowledges these risks.
"If you're illegal, it probably would be better not to be on anybody's radar screen…It's possible that there is some risk of that. But I don't think it's going to catch the attention of Homeland Security. They have other things to do now."
This is the part I hate: Sherman is right.
Homeland Security does have other things to do besides protecting the homeland.
Don't ask me what they are because I have no idea.
There is, however, opposition to this atrocious reality series. And it is fierce opposition from an unlikely source: the immigration lawyers.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association, directed by Victor Nieblas, wants the show pulled from the air. He says
"One, we believe it preys on people's fears. It targets the people who are desperate in our society…Two, it gives false promises and false hopes. No one can guarantee a green card, not even Mr. Lieberman, and number three, it makes these contestants targets for the Department of Homeland Security to detain them and support them and separate them from their families."
You might be asking what the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement think about all of this. Maybe they, like I, saw an opportunity to locate a large number of illegal aliens, round them up and deport them.
"I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment on the premise of a television show except to say that they are holding out false hope to people…You're getting people to submit to unpleasant things, holding out hope that you'll be able to change their legal status in this country, when some people are just not able to adjust their status because this is all dependent on laws. It sounds very much like exploitation." [Contestants go for the green, by Maria Elena Fernandez, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2004]
But how can Gana la Verde be called exploitation? [Vdare.com note: The SPLC can complain about anything.] These contestants have nothing to lose. If they don't swallow enough worms fast enough to win a Green Card, they just go back to their homes on Crenshaw Boulevard and continue living here illegally.
The winners could compete for a job as consultants to Gana la Verde.
The losers can work for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.