The Strange, the Weird and the Wonderful

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I love to watch people and how they interact with others. I’m fascinated with what their body language says and if it represents the words coming out of their mouths.  I enjoy writing character sketches after spending an afternoon out and observing folks. I suppose it is this fascination with what makes people tick that causes me to gravitate to even the oddest of behaviors in people. And when I say odd…well, you’ll get the idea.

Can people really be addicted to anything? After watching a couple of episodes of My Strange Addiction on The Learning Channel you may begin to think so. But people addicted to eating toilet paper and drinking their own urine?  Those are tough to swallow (couldn’t resist).

As long as we’re talking strange behavior I’ll confess – I have an affinity for freshmint Tic Tacs. No other flavor will do and I inhale them by the pack. No, I won’t tell you how many packs I’m up to a day – I’d sooner confess to some deviant sexual behavior than admit to how many Tic Tacs I eat a day. When I’m writing, though, and especially when stuck on a thought, I consume those crunchy little mints like crazy. Am I as twisted as the urine drinker? Not that I’m judging – well, maybe a little. I think that’s pretty sick.

Shows like My Strange Addiction are akin to the  wild and weird carnival acts of the early 20th century. You know you don’t want to be intrigued by it, but you just can’t turn away. In the early to mid 1900s, circus sideshows proudly displayed those with unfortunate physical disabilities. Some say these folks were completely exploited while others say it gave them a chance to be recognized and earn money they might not have been able to otherwise. I’ll leave that one for you to decide. One thing to remember, though, is that we are creatures prone to curiosity, and prior to the advent of television most people weren’t exposed to anything unusual or different. Therefore, their fascination with a person’s disability or illness was born from the natural human instinct for discovery. How we react once we’ve gained knowledge is what sets us apart from the crowd.  Do we laugh, mock, sympathize? Do we continue to question or seek answers? Humanity is a fascinating subject for a writer – the depth of our emotions, the desires of the heart, curiosity for the bizarre, and the need to know about those things which can cause us harm and yet still seek them out because we want answers to our questions.

Are people with strange compulsions to sniff mothballs and gasoline gaining anything from being televised? Are they wonderful exceptions to the rules of normalcy? Are they being exploited or are they attention-seeking to begin with? I don’t have any answers. Without a viewing audience, the sideshows of days gone by would have never existed. What about today? The viewing audience keeps these shows on the air. I’m simply fascinated with both sides of the coin – the ‘addict’ and the ‘viewer.’  You tell me – whose compulsion is worse?

Resources: The Learning Channel, My Strange Addiction

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Tic Tac

18 responses »

  1. As far as addictions go, minty Tic Tacs seem relatively benign 🙂 But if anything, I would maybe consider that a dependency, rather than an addiction. I generally think of an “addiction” as involving something that the body actually develops a physical need for–like tobacoo or alcohol. And yeah, I think people can develop a dependency on pretty much anything. Even they do have some differences from addictions, they can still be hard to resist–I’m looking at you, accursed Starburst jelly beans!

  2. There are a lot of worse things you could be shoveling in your mouth while you write–at least Tic Tacs are low calorie. 🙂

    I think you’re spot on when you contrast the people who allow themselves to be filmed against those who watch the stuff. If there was no audience, there would be no need for exploitation. So I call it a draw between the two sides.

      • Had a great weekend–thanks! Took in two movies in two days, and I feel no guilt since movies are my escape. And man do I love that popcorn. 🙂

      • No blog post. 🙂 We went to “Safe” last night, which I thought was really good, but then again, my hubby and I are big action fans. I went to “The Five Year Engagement” today. It was so-so. A little long but still pretty good escape material. 🙂

  3. My wife seems to like this show, and Hoarders which is similar exploitation but in the context of “Eurgh, how bad is that house?”. I often wonder where they find the people for either show and how much compensation the featured person(s) get. Maybe they get a promise of help, or the shame will be a motivating factor for change. It’s weird. But people like to look at grim stuff, and things away from their own life where they can be safe. Or validate themselves in a “well I’m not like that” way. In both these shows it seems to be a fine line between exploitation and help.

    • True – I like your point about “well I’m not like that” – maybe that’s what truly compels us to watch sometimes – to try to make ourselves feel better. Thanks so much for jumping into the conversation 🙂 and thanks for stopping by. (Don’t tell but I watch Hoarders, too) 🙂

  4. I think it is like a freak sideshow and your angle on it is very interesting. For example, dare I confess, that I have never watched American Idol – never, I don’t watch any of those shows and I have never been able to figure out why they seem to be all that is on television. I did dabble one half a season on Biggest Loser, which lost its ability to hold me to the next group of ‘Losers’ – I didn’t go back.
    Of course I am surrounded by people, some good friends, that do watch and do talk about…(insert Hoarders, Dance, Bachelor) so I have learned to gracefully bow out of those conversations without seeming to judge as I really might want to – it’s my nature. To each his own, I’ve learned, and have found myself saying this quietly in my head as my best friends debate the merits of “The Voice”.
    “Well, I’m not like that” applies to the darker side of any reality show. As for why they allow themselves to be filmed? That is a good question. I’m thinking that we have become a society of people who all believe deep inside our souls that we deserve that 15 minutes of fame, no matter how it comes to us.

    • I confess – I watch American Idol because I like Steven Tyler 🙂 Is that sad or what? You’re right about the 15 minutes – we’ve come to think it’s a part of life I think. I really appreciate you stopping by 🙂

  5. Oh, goodness. I can’t say which is worse, it’s tough to decide!! I understand that these people have sicknesses – some have true mental, psychotic disorders, others just want the attention. The TV producers, in my opinion, couldn’t care less about these individuals. It’s all about the ratings. I like to think I have my limits on what I’ll watch in the way of exploitation. Shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives” are just awful, awful shows. “I’m a drunken, spoiled, rotten idiot, and I’m making tons of money because you watch me.” That’s what it boils down to. I don’t think it’s so wrong to watch the addiction shows because, think about it: you probably didn’t know those addictions or sicknesses existed until you watched it, right? I don’t know, I try not to be picky or judgmental about tv because we all have our preferences (Do I think less of anyone who watched “Jersey Shore”? Of course not). Give me “Big Bang Theory” any day of the week! 🙂

    • I’m with you Sean…I wonder what kind of ridiculous behavior I can find to engage in that would make me a fortune – nah, I think I’ll just stick to the weird nonfamous person I am… 🙂 Thanks for coming by!

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