The Moment of TRUTH!

- So help me GOD!


A MEDIA Review by Joya John


My GOD! Not that Question PLEASE!



A recent program  aired on Star World called “Moment of Truth”, had  generated quite a controversy when it was first aired by Fox Network in the United States.

The program format was adopted by Mike Darnell, who heads the alternative entertainment department at Fox, from an original model created by Howard Schultz for NBC. Those who have watched the program are familiar with its structure.  The contestant is put through 21 questions to win a grand prize of US$ 500,000.  These questions are taken from a pool of 75 questions the contestant has been asked previously in a polygraph test. Interestingly contestants are asked to sign a document saying that they will not contest the decisions of the polygraph test.

The idea that telling lies can be detected in the very physiological mechanisms of our body is open to debate.  The actual shooting of the performance however does not involve a polygraph test. The answers contestants give on the show have to match the answers they had given earlier. Questions asked revolve around career profile and possible misdemeanors in the workplace. Questions related to family relationships and sexual histories are also popular. Often enough contestants are asked hypothetical ethical questions. One contestant was asked if she would rob a bank if she knew she would not be caught. Her reply was “Yes, I would.” As host Mark Wahlberg says repeatedly, “All you have to do is to be honest.” Nothing can stand between a contestant and US$ 500,000 dollars except the TRUTH.

So what exactly is so controversial about the program which has bloggers and audience members shocked by how people can risk their personal lives and reveal the details of their private lives for money? It was only a matter of time that family secrets could become game-able. The talk show, where guests revealed certain gory details of their lives exclusively, was a step in that direction. We are already in a day and age when crime and love affairs ending tragically rule TRP ratings even on news channels. We are transfixed; we click our tongues in sympathy or cry along. So if those feelings are simulated by the program why can’t excitement? We watch with baited breath while the polygraph test ratifies an answer just like we watch excitedly while gorgeous women battle snakes to win an extreme game show. As forms of entertainment become antiquated new ones have to be invented.

The idea of TRUTH as it is played out in the “Moment of Truth” is interesting.  Paradoxically the truth seems to be that we as a society are untruthful. So whether it is about cheating on a lover or stealing something we all have something to hide. The game wouldn’t be fun if the contestant has nothing to hide. The “Moment of Truth” is our modern day confessional. “Moment of Truth”, sounds like a moment of revelation. Interestingly the contestant faces the confessional alone. We have yet to discover a format when contestants will compete with each other to tell the truth. So what is it about our private lives that seem sacrosanct as opposed to say competing with our intelligence, our voice or our dance moves for a prize? The Moment of Truth takes our competitiveness one step forward right into our bedroom

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Editor: Manohar Khushalani

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