Saturday, July 11, 2009

You, Too, Can Be A Self-Help Guru

PBS is getting desperate.

In the past the public TV network prided itself on science programs like Nova. But over the years it’s grown so needy to raise money that it showcases all sorts of characters during its fundraising stretches like Wayne Dyer. I always thought Dwyer was a bit much. My suspicions were confirmed with I caught him on Whitley Steiber’s radio program, Dreamland, going on about all sorts of New Age malarkey.

When Dyer first appeared on the scene back in the 1970s, the original edition of his paperback bestseller, Your Erroneous Zones, featured a tightly cropped portrait of the author, mainly his face. This was obviously done to hide the fact he was bald as a cue ball, albeit a cue ball with some wispy long hair still attached to its sides.

Dyer started the modern era of self-help books. If his first book had all the answers, why did he or anyone else have to write more? Sorry, I don’t have much respect for these pop psychology types who appear with the Universal Truth for anyone. I can see thorough the whole scam.

Cash needy PBS needs emotionally needy people with too much money to feel lifted, enlightened, so happy that they’ll make that contribution. The strength – and weakness – of public television is that viewers have to chip in to keep it going. While for-profit mainstream networks pander to anyone, PBS at least has to keep up some sort of appearance of class.

Enter Wayne Dyer. He brings in the bucks for PBS (and, of course, he gets his cut.)

But there’s nothing magical about Dyer and his ilk. They just tell you want you want to hear but wrap it up in an entertaining presentation that seems to provide new insight into the human condition.

Like the title of this post says, even you can become one of these feel-good idols.

You need an angle, something simple that can be complex at the same time. Let’s take childhood. You can state the problem with adults is that they don’t embrace their inner child, that they become too sophisticated for a childlike view of the world that is better than the narrow POV of a close-minded adult.

Now you got the angle, back it up with an anecdote. It doesn’t matter if the story is truth or fiction, an amusing incident reported in the news or just an outright urban legend.

Try this one: A truck that was just one inch too high to pass under a bridge got stuck. People gathered, proposed all sorts of answers. Get a chain to pull it out. Maybe use heavy equipment to raise the bridge or just tear out the overpass to free the trapped truck.

A little boy on the scene said: “Why don’t you let some air out of the truck’s tires and back it out?”

At this point the suckers – I mean people – in the audience will be all smiles. To reinforce your pleasant persona, make sure the cameramen get lots of close-ups of audience members smiling and nodding in agreement.

If you become successful by using my tips, don’t forget my cut.


X. Dell said...
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X. Dell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
X. Dell said...

I read Dyer's book when it first came out. I was only a teenager at the time, but even back then I thought he was full of it. Since then, we've seen a cottage industry of 'self-help' gurus from Father Bradshaw (who I think originated the term 'inner child') to Dr. Laura, and Dr. Phil--two therapists so incompetent that they've experienced difficulty maintaining their licenses. All of these people act as quasi-parent figures to masochistic children (as you suggest here).

Perhaps we should call this the self-harm movement?

Ray said...

X. Dell:

Did you have trouble posting your comment? I know I've done double or triple posts by accident because Blogger was acting up, didn't verify that the comment was saved. Or maybe you posted once and Blogger hiccupped.

Anyway, your point is valid all three times. ThanX.

I remember Bradshaw on PBS years ago. Wasn't he the one who had people in a circle, holding teddybears representing their inner child? Talk about the BS in PBS...


X. Dell said...

Yup, that's Bradshaw: the self-confessed masturbating ex-priest.

Yeah, I had trouble posting. Because I can't see the comments until you give them approval, I have no idea I've double or triple posted until I see it here. My apologies.

Ray said...

X. Dell:

No need to apologize. When comment moderation is working properly, a message highlighted in yellow is supposed to appear, letting you know that the post was received and is waiting to be moderated.

It seems the notification can pop up anywhere depending upon the blog's template. Sometimes it's right below the sent comment or you have to scroll up to spot it.

If I hadn't been in a hurry, I would've only posted one of your comments or would have deleted the two extra myself after I saw it was the same one repeated.

Anyway, as an eXperiment, I'm dropping comment moderation. I think it causes more problems than it's worth. I noticed not that not many readers comment here. I know that when I go to comment on another blog, if it's a real pain, I give up. Maybe that's been happening here.

For now I'll even allow anonymous comments and hope no idiots or flamers start problems. I can't be responsible for everyone. I will delete inappropriate comments, of course.

If for some reason comment moderation is still on after I turned it off - or if there are any other problems with commenting - please email me.


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