Have you ever seen political correctness eat itself? In its latest lame attempt to package a "reality" show, ABC asked a group of neighbors to choose the new owner of a big house available on their block. The hook: In the process, these rich, white, conservative bigots would learn tolerance, acceptance, understanding and the error of their nasty ways. But irony of ironies, political-correctness lobbies stopped the show before it could preach its political correctness.
The show was called "Welcome to the Neighborhood," and its "educational" message oozed out over the last few weeks in promos during the hit ABC show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." It promised to follow three white, Christian, Bush-voting families living near Austin, Texas, who were awarded the chance to choose, from a list of pre-selected groupings, who would move into a 3,300-square-foot home in their affluent cul-de-sac.
These stereotypically uptight whites were subjected not only to one black family, one Latino family and one Asian family, but also wilder combinations: the two gay men with an adopted black baby; the Republican couple covered in tattoos; the supposedly normal white family whose mom is secretly a stripper; and a Wiccan couple who met at the woman's initiation as a witch.
Welcome to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood ... on acid.
This list is stacked with enough stick figure types to make a mockery of the very notion of "reality." And the neighbors, predictably for the genre, had appropriately stereotypical reactions on cue, making jokes about the Latinos having too many kids popping out of the car, mocking the tattoo-parlor addicts and expressing disgust at the gay men. It's all a nice setup for everyone to learn a little Hollywood-style tolerance and understanding.
The first lobbying group that lobbied for the show's cancellation was the National Fair Housing Alliance. It claimed the show's premise would lead Americans to conclude neighbors have the ability and the right to exclude neighbors based on race, sex, religion, national origin or disability. The group hated the show so much that it's still lobbying against the show being sold to anyone, anywhere on the cable or satellite dial.
The second lobbying group that expressed its displeasure was the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. It insists that positively every televised depiction of homosexuals has to make them look lovable; every negative encounter has to end with the "bigot" quickly arriving at the nirvana of acceptance.