You want reality TV? THIS is reality TV!

Whatever you think about reality TV, this would pretty much have cemented your opinion. If you, like me, appreicate how some reality shows illuminate our genuine moral trashiness, then by god, this would be the best you could hope for until FOX debuts Christians v Lions 2007: Payback Time for Kitty. If you’re appalled by that same trashiness, then this would have made you hack up your own skull.

TV show to offer kidneys as prize
Wednesday May 30 05:00 AESTThose disappointed that reality show Survivor didn’t quite live up to its dramatic title are in luck — contestants on a bizarre new Dutch program will actually be fighting to stay alive.

In The Big Donor Show, which is set to air this Friday, a terminally ill cancer patient will select one of three patients to receive her kidneys.

Viewers will watch testimonials from the three Dutch contestants, aged between 18 and 40, and send in text message advice to the donor to help her decide who should receive the lifesaving operation. (Story.)

Of course, by now you’re probably catching a whiff of Eau de Hoax, huh?

There are two wonderful thing about this little stunt. The first is that you could almost believe it. I mean, given the kinds of things that do happen in pursuit of a buck, you could imagine this kind of show happening.

The second is that it was conceived as a way to attract attention to a worthwhile cause. As those behind the hoax explained:

After revealing the hoax, the show’s presenter, Patrick Lodiers, explained what was behind the makers’ thinking. He said: “It is reality that is shocking, because so many people die each year in the Netherlands while waiting for a kidney, and the average waiting time is four years. But we are not giving away a kidney. That would be going too far even for us.”One of the aims of the programme, he said, was to bring about a change in Dutch law surrounding transplants. At present, only family or friends of the recipient can donate organs – a fact that greatly reduces their availability in the Netherlands. Ironically, meeting someone on a television programme would not have counted. (Story.)

I’m probably going to take some flak for this, but I like the idea here. It’s over the top, to be sure, but if you’re trying to call attention to a life/death situation, which is worse: this tasteless, offensive display (which, by the way, called the whole damned world’s attention to your cause) or a tasteful, conventional, traditional campaign that gets a few hundred signatures on a petition while hundreds continue to die? (No, I don’t think those were the only two choices available – just comparing to make a point.)

Fire away – if I’m wrong, explain how. No less a writer than Michael van der Galien over at The Moderate Voice seems to disagree with me, so I’m certainly open to the idea that there are credible dissenters here. (And no, I surely wouldn’t recommend this to just any client – at best, it’s only appropriate for a very few organizations in the world.)

Meanwhile, we can all at least appreciate that apparently dozens of news agencies around the world swallowed the hook, right?

:xpost Black Dog Strategic: