Great reality television revolves around a shortage of some kind: living space, attractive women, millionaire bachelors. Or, you know, kidneys:
A Dutch reality show that claims to be trying to draw attention to a shortage of organ donors said Tuesday it will go ahead with a program in which a terminally ill woman will choose a contestant to receive one of her kidneys.
Big Donor Show has been attacked as unethical and tasteless. At least one member of the Dutch parliament plans to ask the government to block Friday's broadcast.
Viewers will be able to vote for the candidate they feel is most deserving via SMS text message, but "Lisa will determine who the happy one is," BNN said in a statement.
"We know that this program is super controversial and some people will think it's tasteless, but we think the reality is even more shocking and tasteless: waiting for an organ is just like playing the lottery," Laurens Drillich, chairman of the BNN network, said in a statement.
Well, it's really not at all "like playing the lottery." Developed countries do not distribute kidneys randomly. Criteria are drawn up, and the organ-worthiness of individuals determined. Organ-based reality TV is sad and grotesque precisely to the extent that it caricatures typical organ allotment systems; where sick people aren't allowed to pay for something they need, they must prove themselves worthy of a gift. Are Lisa's criteria for organ-worthiness any less valid than those of the United Network for Organ Sharing? Discuss.