The wife of a migrant worker, whose arrest by Canadian officials was filmed by camera crews in Vancouver, has started a petition to get a reality TV show cancelled.
Diana Thompson's husband, Tulio Renan Aviles Hernandez, was one of the workers taken into custody at a construction site last week, for not having legal working permits.
The raid happened in front of crews from "Border Security," which is broadcast on Global TV and the National Geographic Channel. The show follows officers from the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Thompson wants the show cancelled immediately, and the federal agency to stop participating in the program.
"Deportation, exploiting human suffering, coercing migrant workers, and tearing apart families is not entertainment," says Thompson in the petition. "Would these raids have happened on this scale, in such a militaristic way, if a reality TV show wasn't being filmed for National Geographic Channel?"
The petition has attracted more than 10,000 supporters in less than a week, including actress/director Sarah Polley and author Naomi Klein.
Polley tweeted on Friday: "This is a really awful example of reality TV. So many of these shows hurt people. Let's start speaking up," while Klein tweeted a link to the petition as well.
In Parliament on Monday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews defended the use of reality TV cameras on immigrant raids, saying that illegal immigrants take advantage of Canadian taxpayers — not the other way around.
According to Thompson, her husband was "one day from completing his immigration sponsorship forms." He wanted to work to support her and their daughter, even though a permit wasn't granted yet, she says.
While in custody, he refused to sign a consent form for his footage to be aired on TV, said Thompson. But other detainees who spoke little English signed it "under duress," she claims.
"He will be deported to Honduras within a week where he fears for his life," says Thompson of her husband.
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"Boy Meets Boy"
Bravo's "groundbreaking" reality show "Boy Meets Boy" proved that exploitation and general lack of human decency does not necessarily make a successful reality show. In "Boy Meets Boy", the contestant had to choose who he would like to date out of a house full of single men. The "twist" was that some of the men are straight. a fact that neither the contestant nor the housemates are aware of. To make matters worse the straight men were offered $25,000 if they were chosen as the contestant's date. For whatever reason, Americans didn't feel like watching straight men date and lie to gay men for money.
"Who's Your Daddy?"
With a slightly more paternal twist on a concept similar to "Boy Meets Boy", "Who's Your Daddy?" tasked a contestant who was adopted as an infant to identify her biological father out of a group of 25 men. If the contestant chose correctly she would win $100,000. If she chose the wrong man, that man would get the prize money and the contestant would be reunited with her real biological father, who she did not think was her father. Negative press over the show's premise and terrible ratings caused the show to be cancelled after one episode.
"Tommy Lee Goes to College"
Mötley Crüe Drummer and High School Dropout Tommy Lee decided to go back to college (sort of) and produce a reality show about it to satisfy the insatiable demand for more Tommy Lee that was made by no one. The result was "Tommy Lee Goes To College", a mostly scripted reality show more fake than Lee's ex-wife Pamela Anderson's breasts. Public casting calls were held for Tommy's "friends" and a disclaimer at the end of each episode stated that Lee wasn't even enrolled at the school. The heavily scripted show was cancelled after six episodes (that aired on both VH1 and NBC simultaneously). Even with this reality show failure one can't rule out a season or two of "Sarah Palin's Devry".
David Hasselhoff who owes his current relevancy to his tendency to drunkenly eat cheeseburgers off the ground and his willingness to be openly mocked by Gilbert Godfrey. Naturally The Hoff would try his hand at reality television after the success of other<em> celebrities</em> such as Flavor Flav, Brigitte Nielson, and Christopher Knight (Peter Brady). The result was a catastrophe, only two episodes aired before the show was cancelled. The ratings high being a mere 718,000 people. The two episodes that aired had sit-com-esque plots involving his competitive daughters and Hasselhoff's refusal to cut back on caffeine. To call America's response to the show apathetic would be an understatement of the complete lack of interest anyone has in David Hasselhoff's life.
The weight-loss reality program and one-season-wonder "Fat March" saw a group of 12 overweight Americans walk over 550 miles to earn 1.2 million dollars (divided evenly amongst them). Fitness experts had a mixed reaction to the show due to the potential health problems faced by the participants. During the show's six episode run more people left due to medical reason than actually being voted off the show. By ending after one season "Sarah Palin's Alaska" has achieved the same level of success as a show about obese people walking.
"Amish In The City"
Everyone loves "Stranger in a strange land" stories; "The Wizard of Oz", "Alice in Wonderland", and Sarah Palin goes to the library, to name a few. The premise of "Amish In The City" was to document several Amish teens experience in Rumspringa, a ritual in which teens on the verge of adulthood explore the outside world before deciding if they would like to return to an Amish lifestyle. Typically 90% of Amish return home to rejoin their families. On the reality TV version 4/5 of the Amish contestants did not return to their communities and instead chose to stay in the reality show version of the modern times. One of the teens went on to be featured on MTV's "True Life: I'm Ex-Amish". It's very likely that MTV is also working on "True Life: I'm An Ex-Governor".
Flight Attendant is a job that some see as glamourous and someone at the CW decided that a reality show about people who push beverage carts on planes and instruct you to put all trays in an upright position would be a great idea. Naturally this series about people with a fairly straightforward job included; a yacht party, a pseudo-intervention, infidelity, and a marriage proposal. It's a wonder that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" lasted as long as it did when this entertainment powerhouse lasted only eight half-hour episodes on the CW.
"Married By America"
"Married By America" saw single men and women spend several weeks at a resort together before America voted on which "couple" they wanted to see get married. The show was a ratings disaster even when following Fox's number one show "American Idol". The payoff for the fans that did watch was fantastic as neither of the final two couples actually got married. A Fox Affiliate refused to air the pilot due to critics of the showing saying it insulted marriage and instead chose to air re-runs of "The Andy Griffith Show". It's probably for the best that this show is no longer on the air as Bristol Palin would almost certainly be forced into it by her mother.
"Megan Wants A Millionaire"
When a reality star says that she would be happy as a trophy-wife a new show is born. Megan Hauserman did just that which caused the creation of "Megan Wants A Millionaire" by VH1. The show which had Megan looking for love amongst men who each had a net-worth of over one million dollars. The show was typicial VH1 "Celebreality" fair except for one minor snag that occurred after the third episode of the show aired: contestant Ryan Jenkins was wanted for the murder of his wife. The show was shortly put on hiatus and later cancelled after Jenkins was discovered to have hanged himself. Apparently, Jenkins had placed third in the competition and was on most of the episodes. Sarah Palin's hunting episode doesn't seem so bad now does it?
"Sarah Palin's Alaska"
With clever episode title names like "Just For The Halibut" and "Alaskan Hospitality", a cross-over with "Kate Plus 8", and a clip show series finale it's a wonder that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" was not renewed for a second season. Seeing a former Vice Presidential Candidate hunt caribou and build a high fence to keep out the prying eyes of a member of the "Liberal Media" there's certainly no argument that the show belongs in the annals of history along with "Fat March" and "Who's Your Daddy?". Speculators have stated that the show not being renewed is more a sign of Palin's intention to run in 2012. Now that's reality entertainment.