Lowering of Legal Reserve benefited the automobile industry

Lowering of Legal Reserve benefited the automobile industry

One of the vilest reality shows in the
history of American television, Repo Games,
premiered on Spike in 2011 with no fanfare
and a simple premise, delivered in a voiceover
intro: “Nobody wants to meet the repo man.
But when this repo man comes, you’ll get the
chance to ditch those late notices for good.” A
little more than a minute later, we see a man
built like a professional wrestler pull up in
front a woman’s house, along with a camera
crew that rushes into her driveway like a
SWAT team. The owner’s “REPO REPORT”
then flashes across the screen: “Name: Wallace.
Age: 44. Vehicle: ’96 Dodge Caravan. Intel:
Her weave alone will whoop your ass.” Heavy
metal plays in the background. A tow truck
backs in under the van, which Wallace does
not appreciate, and then the wrestler, co-host
Tom DeTone, proceeds to describe the situation
in which Wallace now finds herself: Tom
is going to repo her car, but if she can answer
three of five trivia questions right, the car will
be hers, and fully paid off. The tow rig lifts the
back of the car when she gets answers wrong
and brings it down when she gets them right.
With six family members watching on, Wallace
prevails. She dances with Tom and then boasts
in the post-game interview, “I ain’t going to
even fucking look for a job now.”
The next contestant, a skinny, shirtless
stoner living at his mom’s, has a similar
message when he wins: “Guess what I
learned, America: if you don’t pay your bill,
somebody else will.”
The last contestant, a woebegone fiftyeight-
year-old man, grovels when he loses:
“Even though I lost, you guys gave me an
opportunity to save my car and I appreciate
that, because in this time and age not many
people would even do that.” Tom responds,
“Wish you all the best, John, and I wish I
could pay off everybody’s car. It’s just not
possible.”
Even in “this time and age”—years into
a hollow economic recovery built atop an
already hollowed-out economy, more than
a decade after the ascendance of American
reality television—and even given the very
low bar of taste set by Spike, I expected to
find some online traces of outrage at the
cruelty, exploitation, and heavy-handed
stereotypes on display in Repo Games.,
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