Sunday, June 24, 2012

Queen for a Day

Between 1945 and 1964, a game show called Queen for a Day was broadcast, first on radio and then on television. It has been called a forerunner of modern-day reality shows, and also "one of the most ghastly shows ever produced."

Contestants were unfortunate women who revealed their tales of woe in order to elicit sympathy from the audience.  Whichever woman received the most applause from the all-female audience won the title of "Queen for a Day" as well as a selection of prizes.

I never saw this show, as it was canceled before I was born and most episodes destroyed (as was the standard practice of the day).  As a child, I heard some pop culture references to it, and I asked my grandmother about it.  I thought it sounded appalling and never thought anything like it would be revived.

Thanks to the Internet, particularly YouTube and Indiegogo, our society has revived Queen for a Day without perhaps meaning to.  The case of the elderly bus monitor who was cruelly taunted by middle school bullies, then rewarded with a vacation fund that quickly grew into a retirement fund, was spontaneous.  However, the publicity that has surrounded it will no doubt inspire others to try to use those websites to engage the public's sympathy and raise funds for their own causes. YouTube might as well start a Queen for a Day channel.

1 comment:

Tim Morrissey said...

I'm old enough to remember watching Queen for a Day with my mom when I was a child.

The incident with the bus monitor lady is very much like the beginning of a Queen for a Day episode. But: what function does a "bus monitor" have, if not to quell exactly the kind of boorish teen behavior exhibited in the video? Why did she not get up from her seat, tell the driver to stop the bus, and then give the little darlings ONE warning, and if their behavior persisted, drive the lot of them directly to the nearest door to the principal's office?

I've read a lot of comments from people saying things like "I'll let any group of any age harass and harangue me for 20 minutes, for 600 grand" and similar thoughts.

The school board says it's a "teachable moment", which is of course complete bullshit.

It's a moment which calls for swift discipline and some sort of immediate consequence.

But then, this isn't the 50's. We don't discipline children any more, because it makes them feel bad about themselves.