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MTV Dismissed - survial of the fittest?

Facharbeit (Schule) 2007 24 Seiten

Didaktik - Englisch - Erörterungen und Aufsätze


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. "Dismissed" and social Darwinism
2.1 ."Dismissed" and its derivatives
2.2 The missing grounds of social Darwinism
2.3 Inconsistency of social Darwinism in "Dismissed"
2.4 The issue of the unmeasurable performance
2.5 Misjudgements of the social Darwinists
2.6 The missed roots of social Darwinism

3. The reception of "Dismissed" in youth
3.1 The access to the world
3.2 The media temptation
3.3 Concepts for the formation of identity
3.4 The encirclement through antisocial structures
3.5 Reasons for the reception
3.6 The role of the media competence

4. The economic backgrounds
4.1 The fundamental change of television behaviour
4.2 Exploitation of youthful needs
4.3 The examination of youth minds
4.4 The "audience flow" effect
4.5 The cheapness of "Dismissed"

5. The examination of 16 "Dismissed" episodes
5.1 General striking features
5.2 The rule of the unreflected purpose
5.3 Superficiality in "Dismissed"
5.4 The lack of a comparable value
5.5 The non-performance-related decisions

6. Final summary and conclusions
6.1 Final conclusions referred to the recipients
6.2 Final conclusions referred to the profiteering
6.3 MTV "Dismissed" – survival of humanity?

7. Appendix
7.1 A video tape with 16 recorded MTV "Dismissed" episodes

8. Bibliography

9. Declaration of independence

1. Introduction

"You are dismissed" that is when you know that your efforts have been futile and all your endeavours are a crap. After spending a whole day with kind words the result is obvious, the other man is the better. It all started off so simple a slight variation from a normal date. First of all you met your enemy and after some haughty phrases the goal of the day arrived, the chosen woman. Maybe the problem was that your date was a rodeo and your enemy's date was a club, although you spent your only 20 minutes alone with her with kissing. It could also be that she felt you were nervous to be substituted for one of your replacements that were sitting in a bus next to you. But she had not dumped you yet and her beautiful smile made you miss the chance to take the money for every minute spent with her. Hence you got more and more self- confident. You thought your chances were better because she was disappointed when she told you what she has found in your rooms what she had done before the date. Not only the stains on his bed but also the fact that his mother told her during the meeting with your mothers some days ago, that he has never had a longer relationship, were definitely minus points for the other guy. You would not rule out the possibility that the advices of your friends had been a disadvantage, because all the sms they sent you from the spectator room were full of confusing requests. Anyhow you could not explain the final phrase in her decision: "[...] all things considered I came to the conclusion that you simply haven't got what it takes. So you are dismissed".

Although this was only a fictional summary of the recent dating-shows on MTV the human degradation is perceptible. It is the social Darwinism which calls the equal treatment into question. Inevitably it leads to the issue to what extend can the "survival of the fittest" rule be applied to human society? MTV´s "Dismissed" was probably the first programme that included the possibility to enjoy other people failing. For the most viewers that was the first time they had to ask themselves for the justifiability that underlies that kind of programme and not without good reason, some viewers missed a pedagogical value. Only a few had an idea how to deal with this new format. The following piece of work tries to bring the different aspects and issues to light. It will focus on the relation to the social Darwinism, as well as the possible consequences for youth, and an analysis of the economic background. Furthermore a series of "Dismissed" programmes are examined to increase clarity. For the same reason the main structure of the conception is kept a close eye on at first.

2. "Dismissed" and social Darwinism

2.1 "Dismissed" and its derivatives

Actually the principle is very old and reminds us in many ways of older well-known dating-shows. The new ones however, are a mixture of game show, dating-show and real-life TV. The basic structure is the same for almost all these shows. In effect the whole programme is concentrated to the purpose of convincing the courted person to choose you over the other guy. Dismissed started in 2001, was the first of that kind of programme, and was named by the "dismissal" of the defeated suitor. It was followed by many derivatives with different additions but the sun rose with the original and because all the similar programmes which followed were based on this I have chosen to write my paper on “Dismissed” even though most of the arguments made could be applied to the other programmes as well. As previously mentioned the two suitors try to convince the courted one to decide in favour for one of them. The sex of the three players does not matter because to some extent homosexuality obtained entry into the show. Each suitor has the free choice of one location where the date will take place. Furthermore the suitors have the possibility to draw a so- called "time-out" card to spent twenty minutes alone with the courted one. After the two dates that are usually a long-lasting process the courted person presents the decision by weighing up the two possibilities. During the dates the rivals are able to use two types of efforts to try and persuade the courted one. On the one hand they can try to present themselves as good as they can and on the other hand they can try to emphasize the weaknesses of their opponents. There are ever-recurring short clips in which they tell about some interim results or new tactics on their own. Lastly the MTV viewers watch this day of dating shortened to fifteen minutes of key scenes and highlights. Theoretically every young person can take part in the show but the application procedure of MTV sorts out unpleasant candidates by asking indiscreet questions.

2.2 The missing grounds of social Darwinism

Naturally there is the question in what way Dismissed is a social Darwinistic conception. To answer that you have to go to the origin of this pseudo-science. Strictly speaking the issue with the social Darwinism is that it is not dealing with a scientific proven theory but with conclusions of different scientists that presented improperly certain statements of Charles Darwin in various ways. Probably the main problem is that the most famous conclusions of Darwinism have often been misunderstood. There was another interpretation being used than it was meant by its founder. "Survival of the most efficient" has been taken for "survival of the best adapted" in the question about the interpretation of the "survival of the fittest" thesis from Charles Darwin. Also the "struggle for existence" has been misinterpreted as the "fight for existence" and not seen as "efforts to do something for a livelihood" - as it should been explained[1]. In opposite to the social Darwinists, Darwin had not drawn any conclusions for the human society from his theory. So it is not surprising that social Darwinism is tainted with a negative tone because the theory of natural selection was applied to the human society as is was used in the National Socialism. So the ethics of the evolution became an issue with a deservedly bad reputation[2]. Not least because the result of social Darwinism is actually the abolishment of less worth living life and nobody owns the right to play god.

2.3 Inconsistency of social Darwinism in "Dismissed"

So there is the question to what extend MTV Dismissed and its derivatives can also be considered a form of social Darwinism. In Darwin's theory it is proven that for example a giraffe with a longer neck will more easily get leafs from the treetop and as result of that it has an advantage in the ingestion of food equated with better chances of survival, but it is not proven that this kind of giraffe would more easily find a partner and put the continued existence of its genes into practice. As a result the format of Dismissed is an insinuation of the evolution theory embedded in a spectacle of human humiliation and pigeonholing. For a better recognition the following examples should be some kind of aid. According to Darwin's view the females of a species are the trigger of the selection[3]. Fitness and healthy of the males definitely have influence on their decisions. But the courtship display of birds by comparison or the peacock feather plumage are remnants whose powers of self- assertion cannot be explained simply because they underlie a certain capriciousness[4]. In plain language there is no reason for the courtship behaviour of the birds and the feather plumage is more a hindrance than an aid in case of escape. These abilities demonstrate that the females sometimes made decisions that are important for the evolutionary process, but not really comprehensible. Enlightened from this point of view you have to agree that the freedom of will has an important effect in the case of survival of the fittest. The equal to this freedom is shown in the programme as the will to be victorious, or as the human need for improvement and these drives are individually unmeasurable.

2.4 The issue of the unmeasurable performance

If you search a term to get a comparable value for the suitors the issue of performance imposes itsself[5]. In the end the courted person decides for the better suitor, but is every suitor equal at the very beginning, or is one naturally better? From watching Dismissed one could accurately say that the two suitors are equal in the beginning but according to Darwin one has the advantage from birth. Darwin would argue that the chances of the suitors cannot be equal but the cases presented by the show would seem to disagree. The performance of the suitors is declared as the deciding factor and this contradiction between science and programme gives an abstract definition of performance. Additionally the purpose is excluded from any reflection[6] because it would be a significant problem if a suitor does not care whether he will be dismissed or not. Consequently the whole sense of the structure is invalid if the performance is not a deciding factor for the courted person or if one suitor does not go along with the purpose. Owing to this the suitors act only for the will to be victorious or the human need for improvement. So it is an abstract and provocative presentation of social Darwinism with an aftertaste of human degradation, because the solution of the show is based on a sorting of human beings that is effected by threadbare selection criterions.

2.5 Misjudgements of the social Darwinists

Charles Darwin denied that the nature follows any usefulness. According to him the people implied an aim into the evolution, although even this teleology of nature is a result of the natural history and caused by a mechanical way[7]. In this context he mentioned that the nature is filled with uneconomic mechanisms like wasting or failures and from this point of view he cannot define any usefulness[8]. This includes that not every development is an improvement and the social Darwinists forgot that different species can live side by side and they are not forced to extinction anyway[9]. Also they denied the freedom of will and tried to give evidence by explaining the human features as evolutionary developed[10]. They suppressed the facts that there is no society like the human one and that only the human beings have some kind of culture. If you look at this you see that the human beings must have dealt against their nature sometimes and this is not to be explained by the evolution theory[11]. In the social Darwinism the basis of argumentation is often the inequality of humankind. In contrast to the laws of western society this is absolutely correct, all humans are individuals and consequently they are not equal[12]. But even Darwin knew about the human relation to its origin and he explained that man with all his noble features, with his sympathy to the lowest, with his goodwill not only towards other men, but also towards the lowest living thing, with all this features and powers presents in his build the permanent stamp of the lower origin[13].

2.6 The missed roots of social Darwinism

According to Darwin the human being is still not more than a modified mammal, a degrading status forcing people especially those in the conservative circles to come down off their high horses. So it does not effect wondering that the phenomenon social Darwinism is explained as world and human improvement enthusiasm combined with professional self-interest and elitist ethos that made scientists to handymen of racist policy[14]. To put it in a nutshell the development of social Darwinism reflected the spirit of the times. Times have changed you would think, but the reality looks frightening, because social Darwinistic processes are in the meantime more effective and especially inconspicuous. The neoliberal capitalism presupposed the adaptation of human behaviours to the economic requirements and thus the principle of competition affects spheres which are indispensable for the social cohesion[15]. Even the media try to better their profiteering by illustrating this development. In plain language human beings appear and they are shown voluntarily and without good reason as marionettes of voyeuristic experiments, which are absolutely degrading[16].


[1] Tanja Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, (Frankfurt a. M., 2000), p. 36.

[2] Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 37.

[3] Steven Rose, Darwins gefährliche Erben: Biologie jenseits der egoistischen Gene, (München, 2000), p. 216.

[4] Rose, Darwins gefährliche Erben, p. 217f.



[7] Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 66.

[8] Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 65.

[9] Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 40.

[10] Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 186. 11 Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 187.

[12] Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 83.

[13] Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 80.

[14] Reusch, Die Ethik des Sozialdarwinismus, p. 199.




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Titel: MTV Dismissed - survial of the fittest?