The Truth Behind The WifeSwap Episode
There have been questions about the WifeSwap Episode and what really went on in 2005. My colleague and friend, Buck Cash, wrote an excellent rebuttal that was thankfully preserved on web archive.
• DEGUNK YOUR PHILOSOPHY •
WIFE SWAP - FINLEY VS STONEROCK - A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
by Buck Cash, Nov 28, 2005
Wife Swap finally aired on Nov 28, 2005, and the InfidelGuy became an instant household name! Amazingly enough, most of us actually believed what we saw like the idiots we are. I think it's high time to review the basics of critical thinking folks, so I contacted the Scourge of Spindoctors everywhere - the one and only Mr Buck Cash - to kick it old-school for us and show the greenhorns how it's done.
Listen up, you primitive screwballs - it's clobbering time! - Roy D. Simon.
Wowsers! What a show, eh?! First things first: Congrats to the Finleys for having the guts to actually appear on this show, and to open up their lives like that!
I was relieved to see that the full frontal attack I half-expected was tempered, for the most part, though I did notice a number of things that pushed our heroes into a negative light when it was most assuredly unfounded.
I took a lot of notes during the show in anticipation of what might have been a real slam-fest against our pal Reggie, his incredibly beautiful and wonderful wife Amber, and/or atheists in general. I'd researched quite a bit of material over the past few weeks leading up to the show, so that I'd have some idea of what to expect, as well as what to look for.
With the editing that goes on in "Reality TV", the producer and director could have post-scripted and directed this thing to make these terrific folks we've come to know and love say and do just about anything. By cutting and splicing bits and pieces out of some 1000 hours of video into any sequence they wanted that would run for perhaps 20 to 25 minutes per household, I have to tell you, I was on pins and needles, as I'm sure Reggie and Amber were.
With that, I'd like to give my review of some of the things I noticed or questioned.
Now, it may seem like a strange way to go about it, but I'm going to start at the end of the show - the very end - the credits. Let's see, there's a "director", a "producer", a "story producer", etc. So, the first thing to keep in mind is that they are actively directing the action to produce the story they want. Get it? It's right there in the credits. Their job is to shoot a ton of footage, then select out bits and pieces and edit them together in a way that creates TV tension and drama - even where there might not really be any. It's a cool trick, like splicing together bits and pieces of Bush's speeches in order to make a funny video of him saying outrageous things that even he wouldn't REALLY say. Well, it's all in good fun though, right? Sure it is, so let's keep that in mind.
Having read what others on these shows have written on the subject, including Kelly Stonerock on her web site, we find that just like actors on any show, these folks are "directed" to "stand here", "walk toward me", "we didn't get it - let's do that again", given many, many, MANY suggestive kinds of prompts like, "don't let him get away with that - confront him", and so on. There's a crew of people there, in YOUR living room, DIRECTING you, WHILE doing what they can to create tension that will make the show fun for the masses to watch. Now, I don't know how much of that went on with this show, but Kelly alludes to quite a bit of it on her web site, as do many others out there on the web - so figure that into the equation about what exactly it is you're seeing on the boob-tube.
Kelly has quite a number of photos on her site as well, and one of the things I noticed is that with the several crew members at each house, there's only one camera per house. So that means that the shots where they're cutting back and forth between Kelly talking and Reggie shaking his head or giving a 'look', there MUST be some editing going on. We can SEE Kelly's mouth moving, so the SINGLE camera's on her. Where they got the footage of Reggie shaking his head or frowning or whatever could have been shot at ANY time over the course of the entire 10 days, but it certainly WASN'T at the MOMENT that Kelly was mouthing the words in that scene. For all we know, he was standing there eating a sandwich and smiling while she spoke those words. Now, with that single editing trick in mind, apply it throughout the whole episode, and we can get some understanding of just HOW MUCH this could be tilted to become the story the producer and director decided to write after the fact, in the editing room.
Okay, that out of the way, I'm going to jump back to the beginning, but don't forget that stuff, okay?
We start with a look at the Stonerocks. The whole family is posing in front of a church, surrounded by snow on the ground, all dressed up in their Sunday best, but without jackets on. The kids are obviously freezing, with their hands sucked up into their sleeves and their shoulders hunched up around their necks, shivering. The little girl's teeth are visibly chattering.
Next, just 27 seconds into the episode, we hear "Amber is an atheist who's scared of leaving the house." The video shows her outside and smiling, not scared. It might also be worth noting that she was SO scared of leaving the house, that she voluntarily traveled some 1000 miles to the Stonerock's. And of course, later in the episode, we're told she takes the kids to daycare every day, and I'll hazard a guess that she picks them up as well. And since we're told later that the entire household revolves around Reggie, who just sits there plugged into his headphones for 18 hours a day, I'm guessing that she just MIGHT go shopping occasionally in order to feed them all. I know it sounds far-fetched, but I think this whole "scared of leaving the house" is just the story-makers making a story.
3 Seconds later, "and would rather play computer games than take care of her kids." This is said while we see the bright, smiling, healthy faces of her poor, neglected children. Throughout the show we see her concern for children, we see her hugging children, playing with children, consoling children, being, well... there's no easy way to put this... motherly. And is it really "rather than" or is it really more like "in addition to"?
Cool! 59 and a half more minutes of this hour long show ought to be a terrific at showing "Reality".
The next thing out of the announcer's mouth is, "Husband Reggie is known as The InfidelGuy, and works 80 hours a week on his anti-God website." "Anti-God" rather than, say, "pro-atheism" or just "atheist" web site, right? You betcha. It's like "Pro-abortion" - likes to kill and eat children, maybe. I guess the thought was that "Anti-God" is something a BIG portion of the audience can really get behind.
And 80 hours a week. Steady, no doubt. Probably doesn't even stop to piss, let alone talk to his wife and kids, right? Of course, later in the show we're told he works 70 to 80 hours a week, so maybe they're just trying to make it sound extreme. In fact, maybe it's actually UP TO 70 to 80 hours a week, but usually less. Either way, that's a lot of hours. Yep, sure is. And you know what? Those are the kinds of hours most people in business for themselves put in. 70 hours divided by 7 days a week is 10 hours a day. Why, that's almost... oh, how shall I put it? Normal. Hmmm... Come to think of it, I've done that kind of time plenty in my salaried positions, and I'll bet the producer and director have as well. It just seems like a funny way to say that he's a hard working individual; a thing that is usually lauded in Capitalist America. For some reason, they make it sound dirty when associated with this atheist fella. Well, be that as it may...
Now we get some tasty, high-tension clips of what we, the viewers, are in store for if we don't change the channel. Wow! Look at the drama! And pretty soon, we're seeing some opening credits as well, including the very important "Supervising Editor", while Kelly sings "Hallelujah!"
Then we get a bunch of God this, God that, prayer, prayer, prayer, asking God questions while he does the dishes, talking to God constantly like he "does his best friend." Apparently, Jeff's best friend is a deaf mute, so Jeff's used to the silent response from God. Punctuating this sequence, we get Kelly explaining that they hooked up because they went hunting together, and she thought he had a cute butt. The supervising editor splices in some stripper music while Jeff bends over, and Jesus no doubt smiles. Lovely. Well, at least that explains all the kids.
"As arrows are in the hands of a warrior, so are children in the hands of their father." Meant to be shot? Meant to be used as weapons? What are you trying to tell us Jeff? "We're to point our children in the right direction." Ummm... Okay. Pardon me while I take a step back from Jeff and his blood-spattered analogy involving children, warriors and weapons. I admit it - Jeff scares me a little.
They then tell us they have a "Behavior Consequence Plan" that they keep on the refrigerator. Two clips are then spliced together of Kelly stating "If the kids tease or provoke each other"  "their mouths are washed out with soap." The list itself is only partially shown as part of this sequence, so we don't know what all it says, but we can see from the portion that it includes:
- Washing their mouths out with soap listed 3 times.
- Washing their mouths out with soap AGAIN listed 2 times.
- Spanked is listed once.
- Grounded is listed twice.
- Sent to their rooms is listed 3 times.
- Additional time in their rooms is cited once.
- Washing all... (cut off by the edge of the screen, so we don't know the rest, but suspect 'the dishes'? - it's for 'leaving food or dishes out')
- 'Extra' chores is listed twice. (indicating they have 'regular' chores) One of their regular chores must be cleaning their room before they play, as the "BCP" says "If the kids don't clean their rooms before playing, we stop them and make them..." we can't read the rest.
Note that the kids have chores and responsibilities, like other kids, including one we'll get to know better in the show, who happens to live in the Finley household.
The Stonerocks home school their kids, and the second most important thing in their kid's home schooling "is education, because they're going to need a job someday." The first, of course, is God, God, God. Oh yeah, and of course, God.
When it comes to the niece they took in, and the crap she's been taking from all the boys, Kelly explains that she just wasn't used to having a girl in the house who's sensitive and crying and getting her feelings hurt. And after all, what would Kelly know about being a girl? About being sensitive? About getting her feelings hurt? Taylor feels she's picked on way too much, and informs us that her aunt Kelly doesn't do stuff with her very often.
In one clip of the scene, they're all in the gym at a sudden standstill after a lot of activity, and Taylor has the ball. Kelly says, "at least you got a free shot!" in a tone and body language that says 'stop complaining'. Apparently the girl was fouled during the game by someone. Perhaps pushed down or shoved or something. Kelly seems vexed at the girl, rather than sympathetic or even empathetic. We'll find out more about just how insensitive she is later in the show.
At least you got a free shot - you can worry about that broken nose later!
But first we've got to hear from Jeff about God again and how "there's a whole bunch of people in the world out there who don't know he (God) exists." News flash Pastor: You don't KNOW it either - you just BELIEVE it. "They just don't know any better. And there's consequences to breaking the laws of God" he tells us sternly, brow furrowed, genuinely concerned. It never even dawns on him that he has zero evidence - just belief - that such fairy tales are true, but he doesn't let that stop him. No sir! He's got a camouflage suit, a bow, and kids he can shoot, and he's not afraid to use them.
Now it's time to go to the Finley's house and get more acquainted with them. Amber is - gasp - not on the computer, but is goofing around with children who genuinely appear to be happy and having fun. Hmmm... Reggie's cut in and out between working the show and giving the camera crew an interview, while he superman-style speed changes back and forth between a shirt and a sweater a few times. Then we get a clip of Amber talking about the bumper sticker and people flipping them the bird, and suddenly it occurs to me that their sentences seem to be cut into pieces. Like, there should be more coming after that last word, but it's cut and edited to the next clip. It's just so sudden that it stands out to me. Besides, I know these stories, and I know there's a WHOLE lot more to them, and some of it is MUCH more relevant. Well, we wouldn't want these atheists to get too much sympathy, now would we? No, no... that would never do if we're going to CREATE drama here! Cut! Print! Next scene! Show her serving him! Yeah, that's it - make it look like he never lifts a finger! Great stuff!
Then this classic: "The first question he asked me is, 'do you really believe a man lived in a whales belly for three days?'" SCREECH to a halt as the shot zooms in on her pretty face. I truly loved that one! "Wow! I guess... No, I guess I don't believe that!" Spoken like a truly rational, thinking human being. The obviousness of it can't help but hit anyone with a brain right between the eyes with a THUD!
Now the announcer tells us that, "Reggie struggles to make ends meet, working 18 hours a day..." Wait, wait, wait... I thought we already had this worked out to somewhere around 10? So now he works, what, 126 hours a week? Or does he only work 4 days a week? What's going on here?
Well, we're barely into it, but I've got to get a little rest, so I'm going to split this up. We'll call this part 1. Stay tuned for part 2!
MEET YOUR NEW WIFE!
Of course, much of my first post was dedicated to some of the methods that are commonly used by the producer, director and editor to create tension and drama after the fact, using snippets from thousands of hours of footage, creatively spliced together.
When we left our heroes in my last post, we were in the process of officially meeting them on the show. In the next bit of footage, they give us a clip of Reggie saying, "my office slash studio is supposed to be my domain, and sometimes the children can slow me down [splice point] and I can't often engage with them as often as I'd like." This actually suggests to us that Reggie isn't closed off from his family for 10 hours a day (or 18 hours a day, depending on which part of the announcer's comments you want to go with here) but is instead going back and forth from putting in some time in the studio/workplace set up in his home to putting in his time being dad and husband, as the situation calls for those various things to be done. Having worked from home myself from time to time doing programming of databases, that's exactly what I'd expect to see from him.
Then the announcer tells us "The Finleys have a huge back yard, but never use it. In fact, Amber barely ever takes the kids outside. She's scared of the great outdoors." They then cut in with Amber saying, "We all usually play in this room. We don't usually play outside - There's too many 'surprises' out there."
Let's take this step by step. It's 'a huge back yard'. Now look at the condition of it.
Does this look at all like a playground type environment for little kids? Also notice the two back doors, and keep in mind that this is a duplex, and that Reggie's mom lives in the other residence. On the left hand side of the shot, there's something next to the door. Recognize what that is? Yep, it's a dog house.
At the beginning of this sequence of clips, as the announcer begins his 'take' on things, there's a shot of Reggie in the back yard. He's working a pooper-scooper. Guess what he's using it on? The 'surprises' that Amber noted as one of the big reasons they don't go out there, preferring to use the word 'surprises' in lieu of 'shit' or 'poop' or 'dog doo' - after all, it's being filmed for network TV. Immediately after she says this, there's another shot of Reggie and the pooper scooper in action.
Now some personal knowledge I have from knowing these folks: The dog that has turned the back yard into a kennel full of shit belongs to his mom, is a fairly viscous creature, and any sane parent would not send their kids, especially not pre-kindergarten kids, out there to become mauled or eaten by it.
I also want to point out something else in the scene that, reflected on later, will show just how far apart in time some of these edited clips are in order to 'produce' a story after the fact. Please note the box directly behind Reggie's feet as he works the pooper-scooper. I'll be referring to it again later - much later.
Is Amber really 'scared of the great outdoors' or does she simply prefer indoor activities with her family? In today's American culture, 'leisure time' has become predominantly geared toward indoor activities, especially for people on a limited budget. Most people today just seem to like to be able to do inexpensive things in the safe, dry, pollution-free environments of their own homes. Certainly this doesn't fit everyone's lifestyle, and there are no absolutes involved. It's just that some people have more of the 'outdoor' activities in their leisure time balance, while others have more of the 'indoor' activities in their leisure time balance. I spend a lot of my leisure time writing, making cartoons and so on, but I also like to get out occasionally and photograph landscapes and so on. It's a balance that works for me, and everyone's got their own balance of activities that works for them. I just don't see it as a big deal, and certainly not as the 'absolute' the announcer and show editor try to lead us to believe in the case of Amber.
In the several scenes that managed to make it out of the editing room that show her outdoors, she doesn't appear 'scared' one single time. In addition, we're not shown other footage of her in the great outdoors for extended periods of time, such as when she engaged in playing soccer while at the Stonerock's. I guess that wouldn't have fit in with the 'scared of the great outdoors' angle the script-writers wanted to portray her as, so it got cut. Overall, this 'scared of the great outdoors' claim seems unfounded to me. Scared of letting the kids play in a back yard full of feces, with a dog that might maul them, sure, I can buy that, but of "the great outdoors" in its entirety? Give me a break.
Announcer: "The only time Amber does take the kids out is to drop them at day care, so the computer-obsessed mom can play at raising virtual video families." Holy smokes! First, there's the absolute only time Amber takes the kids out." Is it really the ONLY time she takes them 'out', as in 'out of the house' which is what's implied from the lead up to this? Maybe that's true, but it seems highly unlikely, if not downright absurd.
We're supposed to actually believe from the qualifier "ONLY" that they have "NEVER" left the house with Amber for any reason, other than to go to day care. Sure, sure...
Now we get a shot of the "computer-obsessed mom playing video games." What they don't tell us is that Amber got tired of the Sims months before, and the video we see of her playing it is directly because they asked her to do so in order to get the shot. We get part of an audio clip added in where she says, "There was a few times when I did not go to bed - it was like five in the morning and I was like, wow! I think I'm addicted!" What we don't see is what was edited out at the beginning of that story, and it's apparent that what we hear is the end of something more, and perhaps there was more after. Knowing that she's been over the Sims for months, perhaps she said something like, "Yeah, I really had a lot of fun playing the Sims at first, and it's so easy to get busy playing it that you don't even notice how much time is going by. There was a few times when I did not go to bed - it was like five in the morning and I was like, wow! I think I'm addicted! So, when I realized that, I just quit playing because it wasn't worth losing sleep over."
Now the announcer informs us that with Reggie constantly working and Amber playing video games, all the housework is down to Dorian. "ALL" of it, right? Wrong, and I'll point out how absurd this is a bit later, as the video itself clarifies, and I further clarify with a bit of personal knowledge I have of the Finleys, including Dorian's chores. For now, we'll just note that the chores listed in this segment amount to cleaning his room and his bathroom, washing the dishes, and cleaning the stove and floor in the kitchen. Even that list is not entirely accurate, as we'll find out later. They leave out the fact that the rest of the house is not his responsibility at all, except when he volunteers to do other things in order to get paid more than usual. Catch that? Paid. We'll explore that more later.
And as the wives pack up to leave for each other houses, "what do they hope to GAIN from the experience?" asks the announcer. Kelly's answer is first: "Well, we have such a successful marriage and happy children and such a fulfilling life that I'm just hopeful that maybe we can share some principles that work for us." In other words, there's nothing lacking that they could possibly need to gain. They're basically True Christians™, and their lives are virtually perfect. Earlier, Kelly told us that EVERYTHING they do - ALL their principles, how they work, play, do their finances, and on and on and on, all come from principles they learned from the Bible - it's all God based. And what does she hope to GAIN, as the question was phrased? Apparently nothing, other than to point out to another family everything they're doing wrong, and how to replace those wrongs with the Stonerock Godly "right way". She's doing this as her latest Christian outreach program. If you have any doubt that was her reason for participating in this, just read through her web site and you can see it for yourself.
And Amber? "I do want to show everyone that atheists are normal, everyday people, just like everyone else." So, she hopes to gain some respect in the world, not just for herself and her family, but for all atheists, by showing that we're just everyday, regular, normal human beings, just like everybody else.
The next sequence cuts back and forth between Amber alone in the Stonerock's house and Kelly alone in the Finley's house. Each is checking things out to get a feel for the place. Kelly notes that the back yard is all fenced in - guess why? Amber finds a mock "Best Teacher" award and wonders if Kelly home schools, and then we hear a clip of her remarking "That'd be a nightmare" but we don't see her mouth the words, so we don't know if it was spliced from somewhere else out of context or not. Instead, during that bit of audio, all we get is them zooming in on a text book. As is so often the case throughout the production, the editing is so quick and jumpy here, with the cuts and splices happening so quickly, unless we see the words mouthed within the same video clip, the editing gets more and more suspect. Even if it is about the home-schooling thing, perhaps she's just voicing her apprehension at the prospect having to become the home-school teacher for a week - not a role she's familiar with, and knowing Amber, she doesn't want to fiddle with the Stonerock's kids heads at all when it comes to their education, or even their beliefs. Keep in mind that most atheists, including Reggie and Amber, are not out to convert people as an objective. We're simply ready, willing and usually quite able to deal with those that may have it in their minds to try to convert us to some sort of God belief.
Cut to Kelly, who says "now look at this" as she finds a "God is just pretend" mouse pad and says "maybe to him, but not to me". This time, we get to see the words mouthed in context with the mouse pad.
Then back to Amber, who's going over the rules left on the refrigerator, reading "if the kids tease each other, their mouths are washed out with soap." Then a quick cut to Amber saying "I'm not gonna be able to put any soap in anybody's mouth" and again a sudden cut before she can say more. She is obviously distressed. Well, from what was shown on the video, it appears to be a long list of reasons for washing their mouths out with soap, grounding, send to their rooms, spanking, and then washing them out with soap again. Well, I'm no Dr. Spock, but my daughter is now a happy, healthy, respectful, responsible, smart, young adult who's studying for college, and I never once in her life ever found a reason to spank her or put soap into her mouth to get her that way. But hey, maybe that's just me.
Now Kelly plays with the "God Detector" and is disappointed that it stays at zero, and we get another cut to Amber who discovers that Kelly's husband is a minister. Now watch this. She says "oh, he's a minister" followed by "it's getting scarier and scarier." We see her mouth the word for both phrases, but there's a spliced in clip to show part of a document for a split second says "Jeffrey Stonerock, a minister", then it cuts back to Amber who says the second part. But the background changes behind her during the cut. CUT! EDIT! NEXT SCENE!
Next, the ladies go over the household manuals written by each other - guides that they will live under for the first week of their stay. Here we find that Dorian is:
- The night time dishwasher.
- In charge of the 2nd bathroom.
- Dusting his own room.
"He is not responsible for his own wash. I'm just trying to find something Dorian doesn't do" Kelly quips. Oh please. We got a list of 3 chores here. Is it really outrageous? Also, I'm a friend of these people, so I have a bit of additional insight here. These chores are what he does to earn his allowance. There's nothing unusual about that at all. One of the bedrock foundations of our society is that if you want money, you have to earn it, and kids doing chores for an allowance is commonly the start of that lesson in life. Again, this is generally lauded in our culture, but somehow they've made it seem dirty in this case that the kid has chores, just like practically every kid on the planet. And let's not forget that this indignation comes from a woman who has no problem with jamming soap into a kids mouth or striking them.
Meanwhile, Kelly's got her own little 'Dorian' back in Michigan: Jeff does the dishes, the vacuuming and the gardening at her house while continuously talking to God incessantly and without end. Kelly even noted in her household manual to Amber that "sometimes I need to ask him to turn the 'pastor' off - I just need my husband" (and his cute butt, no doubt). I wonder what she gives him for an allowance? All those kids maybe (she's even had another since they shot the show - congrats - I guess).
Kelly assesses the situation at the Finley's with: "It sounds like he (Reggie) needs to work a little more on his relationship with his family. He's in a world that revoooolves around him." She draws it out and motions her hand in a circular fashion, while her head does one of those self-righteous side to side head-snap things. Maybe it's just me, but she sure seems to be coming off pretty self-righteous and judgmental already. This world revoooooving around Reggie obviously bothers her, and I'd like to venture a guess as to why: She seems like she prefers the world to revolve around her, and only her, even though she'd no doubt say that it should revolve around God. Of course, she hasn't even met Reggie yet at this point in the show, and she's already formed her opinion. Funny how it matches the many, many, MANY opinions we've all heard generalized about atheists: That we think the world revolves around us. Catch my drift here Frosty?
Now we get some quick scenes from what's coming next, take a commercial break, then back to the show in... 3... QUIET ON THE SET! 2... CUE THE MEETING WITH THE FAMILIES! 1... ACTION!
Announcer: "Kelly Stonerock is a pastor's wife who loves God, her family, and the great outdoors" Let's see... Positive, positive, positive. Check.
"She swapped lives with Amber Finley, and atheist who's afraid to leave the house. Her husband runs an 'anti-God' radio show, and Amber would rather play computer games then look after her own kids." Let's see... Negative, negative, negative. Check.
Reggie asks, "I'm curious, what does your husband do?" She tries to evade with: "He just works in the community, helping people." Gee, that doesn't sound kinda 'fishy', does it? Reggie presses on with, "Community... What kind of community?" Whatever her answer is at this point, we don't know, because instead we get a dialogue from her that's edited in explaining how she doesn't want to 'judged' by putting the label "pastor's wife" on herself with Reggie. The edit cuts back to the end of whatever she told him next, where she says "basically, helping people. That's what we do." She just can't find it in herself to be honest and straightforward with Reggie about such a simple thing as what her husband does.
Meanwhile, Amber fields the same question from Jeff, and comes right out with it: "My husband runs an internet radio show. It's an atheist show. We are non-believers." We get a funny edit here. At the moment that she declares it's an atheist show, the kid on Jeff's lap is fine and dandy. In the moment it takes for her to finish with "we are non-believers" the cut splice has the kid crying like he's missing his mother. Do we really think that the toddler was upset by the fact that Amber just told Jeff what she did? Does he think she's going to bar-b-cue and eat him? I'm skeptical that the kid was even paying attention to the conversation, given the look on his preoccupied face right up until he's crying. This was obviously spliced into place, out of context, in an effort to give the scene more drama. I gotta admit though - it's pretty funny as a punch line, especially combined with the 'doom' sound effect thrown in for good measure.
Back to the Finley pad, and Kelly's showing Reggie pics of the family when, oops - there it is printed on the photo: "Pastor Jeff". He says "I asked you earlier what he does for a living..." and she interrupts and says, "no - you asked me what he does in the community." Reggie concedes the point that he didn't specifically ask for a title, but the truth is that he didn't ask what Jeff does in the community, as Kelly insisted, either. His specific words were, and I quote: "What does your husband do?" Now, any normal person with half a brain KNOWS what that means, and so did Kelly, which is why we got that long dialogue from her about why she didn't want to tell Reggie. She wanted to deceive him instead, by her own admission. Then, when it came out, she couldn't admit to that either, and blamed it on Reggie's poor choice of wording; words which she then falsely put into his mouth in lieu of those he actually spoke - you know, the ones she purposely avoided.
With that, Reggie told her (and rightly so), "a true Christian would have just come out and said it." She was 'bearing false witness' (lies, deceit) which is #9 on the Christian hit parade. And it wasn't an accident. She knew it, and she was doing it intentionally by her own admission in her dialogue explaining why. Her response: "Pardon me?" Whatsamatter sister? Jeff never taught you the 10 commandments? Well, so much for the Christian concept of absolute morality, but chalk one up for 'free will' I guess. LOL!
Then we get a cutaway scene where she explains, "Well, he's obviously never really experienced any relationship with the Lord, so he's got nothing to compare it to." Well, pardon me for asking, but how does that give you a free pass to push aside commandment #9 like it's pig puke on a platter, and outright lie to him or anyone else? Can you say 'hypocrisy', or just live it?
Next, Amber makes the best of going to church as she plays "Kelly", smiling and even laughing a bit with "but hey, I'm Kelly, so I have to go to church, right?" She gets the kids ready, and off they go. Cut to Kelly, who's basically bitching about having to take the kids to day care, framing it as though it's just to get rid of them for those hours to get them out of Reggie's hair, instead of for the reasons Amber and/or Reggie have no doubt by now imparted to her, just as Amber will later impart in the show to Jeff. It is to build their social skills, give them playmates, and help them proceed early on into the learning process.
We did the same with my daughter, and she loved it. She looked forward to going every day and playing with all those other kids. I've known lots of parents that sent their kids to day care or Head Start programs for exactly the same reasons. It's educational, fun for them, and builds the foundations of the social skills they will need throughout life. There's nothing wrong with that, IMHO. But no - Kelly's right, while millions of parents who've raised wonderful, smart, socially-able children into responsible citizens with such methods are self-serving people who don't care about their kids. All they really need is an occasional mouthful of soap and a good spanking, I guess. (My daughter, reading this over my shoulder, just gave me a hug and said "I love you dad.")
Back to Amber, bored with the church scene to the point of yawning, Jeff just doesn't see the joy in Amber that he has in his own life. Well, you know what George Bernard Shaw had to say on the matter: "The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality."
And even though this was God's big chance to reach out and touch someone (on national TV no less!), nothing out of the ordinary happened to Amber to give her any reason to suddenly reassess her position. Anybody surprised? Nah, me neither. Oh well. But let's not leave out that they have another nice little edit here. The scene's finale is a single word mouthed by Amber: "Bored." Except that she's suddenly dressed differently, and appears to be back at the house. For all we know, she's bored while waiting her turn to get into the bathroom. Well, anyway, it seemed to fit well with the church scene, and besides, creative editing is fun, don't you agree?
Kelly's back from taking the kids to daycare, and now she HAS to play the Sims, because in this fantasy-land, non-reality, edited, scripted and produced "Reality" TV show, that's the ONLY thing Amber's character CAN do, other than fear the outdoors. Anybody really buying this caricature of Amber they've invented? Me neither, but that's what caricatures are all about, and I say that as a guy that likes to draw cartoons.
Not to digress too far, but what I do when I want to draw a caricature of someone is, I start by looking them over and picking out a couple of things about them that I think I can exploit. Then, I do what I can to accentuate those things to comic proportions. So, when I draw Bush, for example, he gets big floppy ears, over-bushy eyebrows, and beady little eyes that are way too close together. Falwell gets a double-chin that could pass for gout, and so on. And that's basically what they've done to Amber, but without the funny drawing. As long as you realize that, well then it's all just silly fun. Pity the poor folks that take this "Reality" TV stuff at face value - They probably believe that Jesus will be back any minute too.
Well, poor Kelly's not getting anything mentally or spiritually out of the Sims. Maybe if she had that 'naked Sims' cheat code so she could check out some cute butts, it would have gone better.
You know, I've actually found it quite interesting how many females seem to get into the Sims, and how few males do. It's like a soap opera where they get to be in control of all these people's lives, creating and destroying them and their reputations at will; hooking them up matchmaker style with other Sims, having them cheat with yet other Sims, endlessly buying things and decorating their houses, and all that. Between that and Kelly's inability to understand what her little niece is going through as a girl being constantly surrounded and picked on by the Stonerock boys, I'm starting to wonder if she's not mentally a man, stuck in a woman's body or something. Well, I don't want to get into a whole nature vs. nurture thing here, and it seems pretty obvious that she certainly thinks she's pretty hot stuff, so... I think I'll just move on.
Now it's time for a scene where Amber is to home-school the Stonerock kids using a Christian curriculum. A short clip is inserted where she says, "You know, they're only getting one point of view" (in the exact clothes and position as the very short clip of her earlier saying "Bored." Then it cuts away to the kids, while we hear her say, "So I think some free-thought might be good" as a continuation of the previous statement. Maybe it is. It's hard to know, even though it fits. As is often the case throughout the production, the way she's phrasing what she's saying sounds like the editing has cut her off mid-sentence, and for all we know, she said it at an entirely different time, in an entirely different context - there's just no telling for sure. Makes ya wonder what they cut though.
The niece points out that the Bible doesn't mention dinosaurs and gets a properly placed accolade from Amber for it. This girl's got potential to start coming up with all kinds of interesting problems and paradoxes to the party line being fed to her in that house. With some luck, she'll be able to maintain that ability to think for herself and build on it. Amber points out however, that when the kids have such questions, Jeff answers them from his unique "God, God, God, God, God, God" point of view. After all, actual educational concerns come second to that, according to Jeff's own words in that regard earlier in the show. Excuse me... Jeff? Kansas is on the phone. They'd like you to go there and teach science.
Announcer: "At the Finley's, the kids are back from daycare, but as Amber NEVER ventures outside, Kelly now has to stay indoors for the rest of the day." I love absolutes like "never", don't you? Is there even one person on this forum that couldn't tear that false statement down in 30 seconds or less? LOL! Watch this:
"Never" myth dispelled".
Okay, I'm gonna take another little break here. Stay tuned for part 3!
LAYING DOWN THE HOUSERULES!
And now, back to the 'story'.
Kelly looks out the window in her white shirt and longs to be outside, playing with the kids. As she continues her monologue about fresh air and God, her shirt changes to blue and she's sitting somewhere instead of standing at the window with Reggie Jr. As the scene continues, she's now wearing a black shirt and sitting at the kitchen table with Reggie. She says, "my 6 kids - they play a lot outside" [CUT/SPLICE] Reggie then, "we go outside now and again - we went outside - when was that Dorian? Maybe a month or so ago, we all went outside together and played -" Kelly interrupts, "A month ago?!" She gets bug-eyed and her mouth drops. In case anybody missed it, she informs us, "my mouth dropped!" Okay, let's put this into perspective.
First, there's the ONE camera issue, yet somehow the video jumps (via creative splices) between close-ups of Kelly, Dorian doing dishes, and all of them at the table. Neat trick.
Second, I know that Reggie and Amber tend to take the kids to places of interest, not just 'outside'.
Third, there's a qualifier in this dialogue that must have been prompted by part of the discussion that ended up on the editing room floor: "all went outside and played". Now, I want you to just imagine that what we DIDN'T see in the final video production is a question like this from Kelly: "When was the last time you ALL just went outside to play?" and Reggie's reply suddenly makes sense in that context: "we go outside now and again - we went outside - when was that Dorian? Maybe a month or so ago, we all went outside together and played -"
Remember also that this response is obviously just off the top of his head. Maybe they "all went outside together and played" just a week before, and it slipped his mind at that moment. Maybe he even realized and noted it later in the conversation, but it was edited out in the effort to keep tension and drama in the story line.
Remember, it's not just what we see and hear, but what we DON'T see and hear that can throw this all into a whole new perspective, created by the editors after the fact, and it's a common practice on these shows.
Kelly continues, "We probably play outside with our kids every day." The camera is again steadily focused on her, but somehow, a shot of Reggie is spliced in as though that's the look on his face at the moment she's speaking (but with one camera, it can't be), then back to Kelly mouthing more of the words, then back to Reggie shaking his head and saying, "un-uh - not gonna happen here." But with the one single camera shooting, we know it's all got to be editing magic. The reality is that we don't actually know what Reggie made that statement in response to. All we know is that he couldn't have made it directly to her statement in some seamless manner, the way it's portrayed in the video sequence. For all we know, she was telling him the joys of washing a kid's mouth out with soap when he made that statement. We just don't know.
Next, we see Kelly all comfy on a bed with a Bible open in front of her, apparently in the middle of reading it, when she tells us more about how "the kids want to spend more time with their dad, and dad is working, um, a lot." I thought she was supposed to be Amber this first week? If that's the case, shouldn't she be playing the Sims? In fact, why was she sitting at the kitchen table having a discussion with Reggie? Shouldn't she be playing the Sims? In fact, what's Reggie doing sitting in the kitchen having a discussion? Shouldn't he be chained to the desk in his studio, with an 'anti-God' scowl on his face? Hmmm... Is it possible that these characters are not quite as one-dimensional as the announcer and editor have led us to believe? Hmmm? Maybe?
The announcer then says, "In Georgia, Amber's about to find out exactly what soap is for in the Stonerock household." They've done so much editing, even the announcer can't keep his story straight. Amber's not in Georgia, she's in Michigan. Anyway, there they are in the Stonerock's house (wherever it is for this segment) and Jeff explains that one of his 6 kids actually "got a little lippy" with him, then laughs about how he washed the kid's mouth out with soap. He laughs more about how the kid kept saying "I don't care, I don't care, I don't care" while Poppa Jeff amped up the mouth soap punishment "worse and worse and worse" until the kid couldn't take it anymore and gave in. Sounds a bit like Abu Gharib to me. Good thing the kid gave in when he did, or Jeff might have had to get out the electrodes and car batteries.
Anyway, during this, we get a couple of spliced in shots of Amber looking somewhat distressed, but also nodding her head a little, almost in approval, and even saying "okay". Again folks - one camera. We get Jeff mouthing the words when the footage during this scene is on him, but we have no idea what Amber is nodding her head about in the spliced-in footage. All we know for sure is that with only one camera in each house, the continuity was made up after the fact in the editing room far away and probably months after the fact. To help sort it out, notice that Jeff is standing next to the bunk beds as he tells the tale, but he must be standing behind them and near the wall when Amber's nodding, because his arm and hand are in the Amber footage, up on the shelf above the desk, and that's the direction she's looking.
The more closely we examine the video and critically think about this, the more we realize that there's simply no way we can just take this heavily-edited video footage at face value.
Jeff ends with justification in that his own parents would have done the same thing, and he's glad. In fact, if anything, he wishes they'd been even more strict. Maybe he's a closet masochist or something. I'm thinking there may be some truth to what psychologists tell us when they say that abused children go on to become abusers themselves. But it's all done out of love, donchaknow?!
"It's another 18 hour day for Reggie at the Finley's, and it's Dorian's responsibility to do ALL the chores" the announcer informs us. Okay, we've already gone over the 18 hour days and the issue of Dorian's chores, as well as the issue of throwing out absolutes like "ALL", but I guess it's time to hammer some more on those caricatures again, per the after-the-fact script dreamed up in the editing room.
In keeping with that, the announcer further informs us that "Reggie ONLY emerges to chastise him." Another absolute with "ONLY", and we have to wonder - if he "ONLY" emerges to chastise Dorian, how does he know what to chastise him about? He should be oblivious to anything outside his studio during those 18 hours, if we're to actually take this spin at face value. Something doesn't add up here folks. And WOW does Reggie come down with the heavy hand, or WHAT?! "This is what happens when you put heavy stuff on toilet paper - check it out. Can you fix that for me please?" No hostility, no soap in the mouth, no spankings - yeah, Reggie's a real tyrant.
Kelly then tells us that Dorian just needs to have fun and play, and she feels very sad. Right - no responsibility or values or work ethics should be imparted to him. In case you missed it, Dorian's edit-scripted caricature is one of a little slave boy who never smiles, has no toys, no fun, no childhood to speak of. His life is one of absolute misery at all times. Got it? Good.
"How much time a day do you think you spend doing chores?" Kelly asks Dorian as she sits across from him at the table. We see her mouth the words in a wide shot that shows both of them from some distance. Cut to a clip that is a close-up of Kelly and hear him say "a lot" without actually seeing him in wide shot saying it.
First, we've got the single-camera problem again. Maybe he said "a lot" to her question, and maybe he said it in response to "how much do you like to eat chocolate cake?" or "how much money do you earn doing chores?" The audience is sure to make the assumption the editor, director and producer want, but the truth is that we just don't know with any authority what the context of his two words was made in since, as usual on this show, it's not a continuous shot, but an edited one.
Second, what kid that has chores would have answered any other way? That's their perspective, after all. ANY time doing chores when you're a kid is "a lot". Ask any kid that has chores the same question, and see what they answer. Think about it.
"So do you play with your dad?" Almost before she gets the words out, he says, "No" "Because he always has a lot of work..." Again, heavy editing prevents us from seeing this as a continuous sequence, as it's mostly clips of Reggie working. The only word we see mouthed by Dorian is "work", and the sound editing between her question and his answer is so un-timely that it smacks hard of leaving out lots of information that may have put this all in an entirely different context. "No" could have been the answer to anything at all, but it doesn't sound at all like it flowed directly after her question.
Kelly rolls a tear at the end of a monologue about how Dorian misses his dad and has no fun and how bad she feels for him. Touching. Really. Of course, Kelly has to change shirts a couple of times during this sequence - black is for playing with the kids, and orange is for the monologue script and tearing up. Think about the editors - "Let's pull up a couple of shots of Dorian looking down and out. Yeah, that's it. Okay, now let's splice in a shot of him smiling while she's playing with him. Great! Now, find that shot of Reggie with his headphones on and shaking his head. Awesome! Okay, now splice in the shot of a tear coming down Kelly's face. Beautiful! Cut! Print!"
Back at the Stonerock's, Amber's concerned about how much niece Taylor is getting picked on by all the boys, as we get spliced clips of them hitting, shoving and pushing her down. She reasons with them to lighten up some on the girl. Then we get a clip of Taylor saying, "It was nice to have Amber stick up for me... a little more than my aunt does." Then we get a shot of amber sitting on a stoop beyond the kitchen consoling the girl, who is out of sight. Her voice cracks as she tells Taylor, "I think you're so sweet and nice, and I hate to see you so sad." She reaches out toward Taylor, who falls into Amber's arms for comfort. It's now abundantly clear that Amber's not the insensitive, anti-children bitch she's been portrayed to be in the caricature they created for her early on in the show, in case anyone had any doubts.
Back to the Finley residence, and the announcer informs us that Kelly and Reggie have been arguing about atheism, but the subject has turned to Dorian. Now we get an edited series of clips that jump back and forth between Kelly mouthing her disapproval and Reggie giving looks that make the editor's story. Again, it's a one-camera operation, so we have no idea what those looks were actually in context with, but it's obviously not what she's saying in the video at that moment. Those close-up shots of Reggie had to be taken from other footage shot somewhere along the line, probably while listening to some inane and mostly ridiculous utterances coming out of her earlier, while "arguing about atheism".
Late in this sequence, there are a couple shots of the both of them at the same time, while she mouths to Reggie that "everything feels like you're the center, and everything revolves around you, and what matters in this world - is you." Then we get a close-up of Reggie spliced in again, this time saying "I think you're quite vicious." Now, why do I get the impression that she spent quite a lot of time sitting there pushing Reggie's buttons in order to prompt a response such as this? I mean, c'mon... Think about it. This is a guy who manages to take guests like Hovind and Phelps in stride. There's only one conclusion I can make: there's a LOT of missing footage leading up to this, and I'll bet a ton of it was Reggie kicking her ass in the "atheism argument" while she went all brain-dead-fundy-in-denial on him. In fact, Reggie goes into a bit of this run around the garden she's taken him on, leading up to telling her that he's lost a lot of respect for her that night. He says, "You went from atheism, to self-centeredness, and viciously attacked me. And THEN, you segued THAT into my family, and about how they all dance around me to please (me) - that was very - that was very vicious - that was very vicious and I'm - I'm sorry, I just - that's just - I have lost a lot of respect for you tonight." From his state in this scene, and knowing how he handles confrontational situations on the many, many, MANY shows we've heard him on, there can be no doubt that she's just spent a good deal of time pushing his buttons leading up to this moment.
If you listened in on the "BibleGal" show she did when she took over the studio and pre-empted the "InfidelGuy" show, you probably might have a small taste of what Reggie was going through with that woman. I remember that it made me want to slam my head on the desk repeatedly. Now put yourself in Reggie's shoes, and listen to her for hours at a time, day after day, and see how long you can play nice-nice with her. It's all about putting it in the proper context folks.
Next up: The wives take over. I'll be back with that in Part 4
THE WIVES TAKE OVER!
Announcer: "Today, everything is about to change in the Stonerock and Finley households, as the new wives take control." Really? Everything? Let's find out...
Announcer: "It's time for the wives to lay down the new rules, which the families MUST obey." Really? 'MUST obey'? Let's find out...
During the "Rules Change Ceremony", the show cuts back and forth between houses: It opens with Kelly stating, "The principles in the Bible have changed every aspect of my life." Now think back to what she hoped to "gain". Yeah. If Reggie thought she was irritating up till now, he ain't seen nothin' yet, because now the real torture begins - her mission is to point out every possible thing she sees wrong with Reggie, his family, his business, the way he does things, the way the household runs, yadda, yadda, yadda, and point out that the Stonerock-Bible-based-God-said-so way is so much better.
Kelly mandates that Reggie must replace all the "atheist" paraphernalia with "Jesus" stuff she's got at the ready. Amber's tired of the incessant preaching, and mandates that Jeff has to back off on all the "God" stuff and pay a dollar fine each time he can't seem to avoid it, which will be spent later on the Stonerock kids. Though Kelly would like to be able to mandate that Reggie 'know' Christ as his father, she'll settle for his kids knowing Reggie as their father, and mandates that his new work hours are strictly from 9 am till 5:30 pm. Amber's announces that she's going to bring in a non-Christian tutor so that the Stonerock kids can learn the facts, not faith, and the two younger Stonerock kids will go to daycare. Kelly moves two of Dorian's three chores, doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, to Reggie's responsibility. Amber will show the Stonerocks how to treat a girl by introducing 'girl time' with Taylor, doing hair, makeup and nails. Kelly mandates that the kids spend more time outdoors, especially Dorian, and that the house is to become a place were kids can run and play and make lots of noise. Amber wants Pastor Jeff to walk a mile in her atheist shoes by wearing a "No God" T shirt she's got for him, wearing it every day as he goes about his business. Kelly introduces Reggie to the "Jesus Saves" baseball cap she's got for him, and then announces that she'll be taking over his radio show, renaming it "BibleGal".
Throughout this sequence of shots, there are lots of 'single-camera' issues on both sides of the aisle. While the video shows the wives mouthing the words, the families are shown supposedly reacting, like when Reggie yells out "WHAT?!!" when Kelly says he has to replace the atheist paraphernalia with Jesus stuff. Of course, we don't know if the reactions shown are actually the ones applied to the specific comments made by the wives, or if it's mixed and matched to the editor's delight. I suspect the latter, simply because we can see the obvious and insurmountable problem with shooting close-ups of both these people at the same time with a single camera.
It should also be noted at this point that the "rules" have not necessarily been written by the wives, any more than script written in the editing room was written by them. Notice that as they read them, some of the words seem a bit unfamiliar to them, almost foreign to their own thoughts. They have to concentrate on reading from the 'cue cards' in their hands, deliberately reading almost every word. If they'd actually written these themselves, they'd only have referred with a glance to each number on the list the keywords after it, and recalled the rule they wrote from memory. The card would simply be a reminder tool for them.
And by the way, where did they get the 'stuff' they presented? The "No God" shirt, the "Jesus Saves" hat, the Jesus posters? They didn't know what kind of family they were swapping with - not even that it was definitely going to be a theist vs atheist scenario. Kelly intones on her web site that she thought it might have been and outdoor lifestyle vs. indoor lifestyle. Could it be that these were provided by the TV crew for the very purpose of supporting the rules they'd already written, at least in part? I mean, Kelly, playing Amber, couldn't have left the house to go get them, right? And Amber, even if she COULD get over her overwhelming fear of leaving the house, couldn't just go down to the local Wal-Mart and find a "No God" shirt, could she? I'll also mention that there's a rumor going around (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) that when the crew presented Amber with the "No God" shirt for Jeff, she didn't even want to go through with it. Check out the look on her face.
Okay, the rules, whoever wrote them, have been laid down. Let's see how it works out.
Reggie put the cap on as soon as she presented it, and now replaces the "atheist" paraphernalia. Jeff, on the other hand, continues talking about God and would rather pay the fines than to even try to comply with the new rule. So much for "everything" and "must", but we've already noted that the show and the announcer's script like to play fast and loose with the absolutes anyway, so I guess there shouldn't be much of a surprise there. It's also not much of a surprise that the Finleys have been open-minded enough to go along with anything and everything so far, while the Stonerocks have a lot of trouble adapting to any changes at all, from Kelly's deceit and needling, to Jeff's outright refusal to comply.
Leading into the commercial break, we get a few quick scenes to show the continued tension we'll witness if we stay tuned, and the announcer says, "Next, Jeff has to dump the kids at daycare, and BibleGal comes out fighting." Just thought I'd pause to point out the negativity of "dump" accompanied by a crying kid being left for the first time at day care, which usually lasts about 1.5 minutes, until the kid gets a toy in his hand and starts to have fun. Meanwhile, Kelly "comes out fighting", though WifeSwap will decline to show Reggie stomping her on her "BibleGal" show. That's okay, we have the tape of the original broadcast to refer to, even if most of the folks that watched WifeSwap will probably never know that she might as well have "come out fighting" against Mike Tyson in a real boxing match. She never even knew what hit her.
After the commercial break, Jeff and Amber take the two youngest Stonerocks to day care. Naturally, this being their first time, they don't want to be left there with people they don't know, and there's a bit of crying. Jeff considers it "real poor parenting" and makes him "question the amount of love and atmosphere in their home, if she thinks the day care is better for her children than her own husband and her own love is for their children." Jeff obviously misses the point of the whole thing, calling it a 'no brainer", so Amber explains it to him on the way home. It's not an either/or situation, but a supplemental one for the children to enhance their social skills by interacting with children their own age. Jeff's take on it is that it's a very self-centered thing and not in the best interest of the child.
Combined with the mouth-soap and spankings, I can hardly wait to see this guy's full parenting guide hit the stands for some professional review by child-rearing experts.
The announcer then tells us that "Kelly's taking the Finley kids, who barely ever see the outdoors, out of day care and out of the house, so they can spend time in the park." I'm sorry, but I just have trouble actually believing that they "barely ever see the outdoors." I mean, I suppose it's all relative, but "barely ever see the outdoors" makes it sound as though they're locked in the closet and only let out to peer out the windows twice a year.
At the very least, most day cares and public schools I've seen, including the ones my kids went to, have little outdoor playgrounds that the kids get some time to run around in for at least some period of time most days (weather permitting). I suppose it's possible that those the Finley kids go to don't, but it seems out of the ordinary.
And, let's just get to the real truth about this "outdoors" issue. "Outdoors" to Kelly and the producer/director/editing team refers to "the Finley back yard", which we will explore a little later in the show (and in this exploration of it). As it turns out, they prefer to use the side of the house, which is quite large, to do their running around and so forth, and there are good reasons for it (again, we'll get into that later - I promise!).
Then he informs us that "With the little ones in day care, Amber can now get on with playing with virtual families on the computer" as though that was her sole reason for day care, despite the actual reasons that have already been given. Let's think about this. The kids are gone to day care, Jeff does all the chores and talks incessantly about God. I'm guessing she's kinda bored. And who cares if she IS taking a break and playing a game while there's nothing else going on? When did that become a crime? If it is, most of us are going to jail folks. Besides, we don't get to see the screen. For all we know, she's composing email to Reggie, writing down her thoughts, making a shopping list, or playing a quick game of solitaire.
Next, we get a clip of the non-Christian home-school teacher, and of course Jeff has to be sure to inform us that he's prayed to God to watch over them, no doubt so that they don't accidentally learn the truth about dinosaurs or something. While family newcomer Taylor exhibits more critical thinking, one of the Stonerock's life-long indoctrinated sons speculates that maybe a man can survive inside of a fish, if it's a really big one. Those poor kids...
Back at the Finley's, it's no more chores for Dorian as his dad finds out what it's like to have to do ALL the housework. ("ALL" emphasized as the announcer did). Again with the absolute "ALL" when, in fact, the original list of chores wasn't "ALL the housework, it was 3 chores that are only a portion of "ALL" the chores that need to be done to keep a household running, and let's not forget that he got paid to do them. I should also mention at this point that Dorian regularly asks for more chores around the house, so that he can earn more money. Kelly took away 2 of the 3 regular chores, per her list, not "ALL". So much for the 'slave' caricature they hung around this kid's neck, eh?
One of the three chores Dorian originally had was "dishes at night". Notice the qualifier in there "at night". Those are the dinner dishes. Somebody else in the family is obviously doing dishes during the day from breakfast, lunch and snacks. Another chore was to clean the second bathroom. Notice the qualifier again - "second". This indicates that it's not his responsibility to clean the 'first' bathroom. Anyone with a family that includes kids and two bathrooms knows how this works - one of them is the 'kid's bathroom'. The other two kids in the house are pre-kindergarten, while Dorian is trying to earn money by doing chores around the house. Is there any mystery to this 'chore' left? Those are the two chores that Kelly took from Dorian and gave to Reggie. What's left is the third chore, which Kelly did not take away, per her list of rules: Dorian dusting his own room. Oh my! A kid that's expected to keep his own room clean! How awful! I wonder if Dorian kept getting paid, or did Kelly put this kid out of a job by outsourcing it?
I also notice in this scene that Dorian's playing a little video game. Could that be <gasp> his? Well, sure. And if the kid's got toys and games, is there any doubt he plays with them and takes time to have fun, just like any normal, healthy kid? Sure. As he grows into his teens, he's learning to balance his 'fun' time with his 'work and earn money' time. These are important lessons that he will need for the rest of his life. There's nothing out of the ordinary going on here, despite the negative spin it's been thrown into via creative editing. All we have to do is think about it a little, and we can see it for what it really is.
As for Reggie "finding out what it's like", just think about this for a moment. First of all, Reggie was in the US Army. I'm pretty sure he knows what it's like to do 'chores'. Second, Reggie wasn't always married with kids, and must have done for himself quite regularly at some point. I doubt he's actually "finding out what it's like", as though he's never done chores before and this is his first time to have a broom or a soapy dish in his hand. It's just patently absurd to even think it's a possibility.
In the video, Reggie comes to the realization that "This is too much for one person to do. But I'll tell you one thing - this really does help me gain more appreciation for what Dorian does around here. You know, he really does do a lot more than I probably realized." So, is Reggie saying that he suddenly realizes that he turned Dorian into a slave? Not in context, it doesn't. Remember that Dorian regularly volunteers to take on even more chores to earn more money. What Reggie's realizing is that the kid really IS earning the money he's being paid.
Back at the Stonerock's the announcer tells us that "Amber's rule that every time "God" is mentioned in the house, pastor Jeff has to pay ten dollars." Wait - that wasn't the rule at all. When she read the list of rules to them, she said ONE dollar per offence. When Jeff decided to run through a lengthy Bible story about Daniel, she said she thought the whole story was worth ten dollars, and Pastor Jeff said "maybe it is." I guess there's just no end to the length of liberties this show will take to twist the truth.
In this scene, Jeff's tucking in one of his kids with a talk about God, as usual, while Amber stands there with the donation box. She tells him that she hoped the rule would induce him to find other things to talk to his kids about instead of just "God, God, God" all the time, and he lets her know that he just won't comply. So Jeff just refuses to participate in the show's premise of trading lifestyles to see what it's like to live on the other side temporarily, saying "you're asking me to be who I'm not." Well, duh. That's the point of the show. He won't wear the "No God" shirt, while Reggie wears the "Jesus Saves" hat, and he won't chill on the constant "God" talk, while Reggie replaced all the "atheist" paraphernalia with "Jesus" paraphernalia. Again, so much for the announcer's "EVERYTHING" and "MUST" absolutes about what's going to happen in these households. Apparently, it only applies in the Finley household.
By the way, how is it that Amber came to be standing there with the donation box? Well, one internet rumor has it that the TV crew put her up to it, and that she didn't really want to have the confrontation with him about it at all. In fact, the rumor is that she didn't feel it was right at all to interfere with the way this family wants to instill their beliefs in their children - it was just too personal and 'over the line' to go that far for a TV show in her opinion, or so we've heard. Again, we are not here to convert, and Amber in particular is not one to set upon the beliefs of children, regardless of their parents' beliefs. After all, these are their kids. They shouldn't have their little heads bounced around like a toy just so America can have a good laugh.
Back at the Finley's, Kelly takes over Reggie's show as "The Bible Gal". Now we get a spliced and edited version of what happened on that show. In the first clip of the scene, she's waving a dollar around. Wanna bet she was proving to Reggie that the United States is founded on God and the Bible by pointing out "In God We Trust"? That's the level of her arguments and her 'fight'. In the following sequence, she's portrayed as being all nice, while Reggie's portrayed as being so frustrated, he's about to go off the hook. All I can tell you is, listen to the BibleGal show in it's entirety if you want to find out how long it took, how ridiculous she got, and what personal buttons she repeatedly pushed to get him to a point where they could get those few seconds of footage. Again, think about it. This is a guy who can deal with people like Hovind and Phelps and not lose it. Do the math.
Back at the Stonerock's, (very likely that the TV crew pushed her into this) Amber confronts Jeff with the "No God" shirt again, and he refuses with a nervous "no... no... no...". He tries the 'if I were to ask you to go out and wear a 'Jesus Loves You' -'. He can't even get the words out of his mouth before she tells him she'd do it, and we know she would. In fact, what he doesn't know is that Reggie parked a Jesus Saves hat on his head as soon as Kelly presented it to him without giving it a second thought. Jeff says it would be wrong for him to ask her to do that, because he'd be asking her to live a lie. No, not LIVE IT, just PRETEND for a while to see what it's like - it's the point of the show/experiment/whatever you want to call this thing. Notice that Reggie can wear a Jesus Saves hat without LIVING a lie, and Amber can go to church without LIVING a lie and, in fact, Reggie went to church with Kelly also, but it didn't make it out of the editing room. Pastor Jeff can pretend that he knows God exists and that he's having conversations with him (here's a clue - ACTUAL conversations are two-way communications), but he can't pretend the opposite, not even for a few days, not even after agreeing to the abide by the rules in order to participate in this show.
He says it would violate his conscious to advertise a lie. Well, c'mon folks... He doesn't KNOW it's a lie - he just believes it is. It might very well be the truth, and most rational people, including Christians, admit that. But not Pastor Jeff. Just as Kelly couldn't own up to violating the 9th commandment that she supposedly lives by, Jeff can't give up his unfounded dogma for a moment. He has no room in his close-minded fundy brain to even entertain the premise of the show he agreed to be on, knowing full well, up front, that it was a show that puts you in a living situation that's going to be fundamentally opposite of your normal one for a few days. He can't even pretend to accommodate the notion that there's any possibility that he's wrong, even though he has no proof that he's right about this god thing.
Back at the Finley's, Reggie, who doesn't yet have a computer-automated process that handles subscriptions for him, can't process orders as they come in any more, because he's only allowed to do so between 9 am and 5:30 pm, per one of Kelly's rules. Folks that try to sign up after 5:30 have to wait till the next day, and by then they think there's some kind of problem, so they've cancelled. When it comes to purchasing online, we're used to instant acknowledgement, payment, and receipt of goods and/or services, after all. Reggie sees his business going down in flames and, since that's the family income, he's frustrated by the knowledge of how that will impact the family.
The video shows his frustration, but doesn't fully explain it. Instead, it comes off as though he's just an over-working prick motivated by his own greed or something. Most of you already know that Reggie's never done very well financially with this. In fact, they're usually just barely getting by, like most families. Beyond the normal bills any family has, he doesn't get any of the perks or benefits most of us do by working for someone else. Things like group insurance plans, 401k retirement plans, tools and equipment that are needed to do the job, software updates, server fees, advertising and promoting the show and site, and so on are all part of the costs of running his own business, in terms of both dollars and worry.
And why does he do it? Part of it is because the show itself is something he loves to do. I'm quite sure that if he could JUST do the show, and nothing else, that'd be a perfect world for him. But that's simply not reality. There's a LOT more to it than that, and he doesn't have a media corporation behind him that pays for a staff, equipment, advertising campaigns, and so on. Another part of it though, is that people like us heard him do a couple of shows in the beginning that he put together in his off-time from a regular job, and asked him to do more with it. We pushed him to do it. We begged him to do it. He recognized, with people like us, that there was a need for a voice like his out there to represent us on a regular basis; to talk openly about our issues; to challenge the status quo; to help us step out of the closet. Something more than the AA newsletter was needed and we were more than ready for it. He acquiesced to those pleas, and gave it a shot, took a big chance, puts his all into it, and here we are.
[RANT] With all that in mind, it pisses me off no end to hear fellow non-theists, free-thinkers, atheists, and so on rail against him for not doing enough, not saying what they think he should have, not doing this, not doing that, doing it this way, doing it that way, doing the WifeSwap show, breaking down on camera, being human. HEY! You can't please ALL the people ALL the time! It's so easy to criticize, when your not in his shoes, isn't it? You bet it is. Tell ya what... Do what he does and show us you can do it better, or shut the fuck up, you whining, baby-brained, clueless, mouthy, little ignorant shit-stains ! [/RANT]
Sheesh, maybe I should take a little break and calm back down. Back later with part 5 of my full review.
EXTRA! EXTRA! ATHEIST HAS FEELINGS!
Okay, here we go again, and this next scene has become one of the most contentious of the show, cited countless times by theists and atheists alike in practically every web site that has any discussion about the show. And, it's also interesting to note that folks on both sides of the fence are split and taking both sides of the argument. Some theists and atheists are saying Reggie looks human, while other theists and atheists are saying he looks like a wimp.
Well, if you haven't guessed by now, I'm talking about the scene in the kitchen where he breaks down. Let's go to the playback...
When we left off, Reggie was frustrated at seeing the toll Kelly's new work hours rule was taking on the business and the future of his ability to support his family. Now let's kick it off with the announcer: "...and Reggie finally breaks, and decides to confront Kelly."
First, notice the "Psycho" music that accompanies him walking into the kitchen. That's part of setting up the shot so that we'll view Reggie in the way they want to portray him.
Now let's get down with some truth. What the announcer said was a flat out LIE. Reggie DIDN'T actually decide to confront Kelly. What he ACTUALLY decided to do was go to the kitchen for a refreshment of the food/drink variety, and Kelly was there, ready to start needling him again, which she proceeded to do for some 20 minutes by one witness estimation. Add that to the several days she'd already been working him over and, yeah, he finally cracked, that damn human being. And then he spells out why in the next series of spliced footages:
It starts with Kelly saying "Lots of men have the choice to say 'I don't wanna work overtime.'" At this point, the video cuts and edits into a shot of Reggie, while the audio continues from Kelly: "I mean, 70 to 80 hours is just too much." Remember this as 'splice point one'. With the video still on Reggie, he responds with "I feel like such a failure since you've been here! Do you know that?" A clip is spliced in here of Kelly nodding almost imperceptibly, though we know we've still got the 'single-camera' issue problem, and the camera is clearly focused on a close-up of Reggie at this point. "Everything I do is wrong! I've busted my butt to try and do everything I can for these kids, and ever since you've been here, I've been feeling like... like, nobody! I been feeling I can't... I feel like everything I'm doing is wrong!" Now that particular footage ends, and is immediately followed by another clip that shows both of them standing there.
First though, I want to go back to 'splice point one'. The editing here is particularly interesting to me because the dialogue between Reggie and Kelly overlaps in such an interesting way. Her audio started with a video shot on her mouthing the words, and the audio continued in a way that made it really seem seamless into the video clip of Reggie, where we can actually see him mouthing the words as well. Now, with a single camera, that's simply not possible. There are two ways this could have been done in the editing room. One is that she made two separate statements - one with the video on her and one with the video on him, that were not actually connected, other than that they were both made somewhere in the same 20 minute period that this was going on in the kitchen. They could have been 10 minutes apart, for all we know. The other possibility is that her audio was continuous, and that they overdubbed part of her audio into his video clip, which could also have been 10 minutes apart, for all we know. If it's the second editing trick, it's particularly sneaky and leaves even more of this episode to the imagination of what was actually going on. Either way, it's an editing trick. The only thing we can tell about it for sure is that what we're seeing and hearing in this sequence isn't how it played out live in the kitchen between them. Okay, back to the sequence:
Spliced into the sequence as though it's continuous, though we know better because of the 'single-camera' issue, Reggie continues in the new wide shot that shows them both with "and I'm never gonna be successful in your mind because I don't believe in God." At the moment he's saying the word "and" to open this shot, that's exactly where the wide shot is spliced in. First of all, it doesn't fit with what he just finished saying in the close-up shot of him that preceded it. "And" comes out like a continuation within a sentence, while the previous shot ended definitively on the word "wrong!" And if all that's not enough to convince you of the splice job here, at the moment the wide shot starts and Reggie says 'and', Kelly is finishing something she's just said, and the last syllable of whatever that was is still coming out of her mouth and she's nodding her head. It's a split second thing that's easy to miss, but it's undeniably there.
With that, he turns and commits stuffed animal abuse with a swift kick, getting what looks to be about 2 feet in height and perhaps 10 feet in length, stopped short by a two-bank cabinet bounce that blocked the goal attempt. With a bit of practice, he can probably get under it a bit more and land it right up on the counter.
As the fuzzy launches off his foot, he turns again toward Kelly and asks "Do you know that makes me feel?" [cut to video footage that shows close-up of Kelly and Audio of Reggie]: "I'm tired of society thinking that I can't be moral" [cut to video footage that shows both of them] "that I can't be right! That I can't take care of my family, just because I don't believe the same things they do." During this last sentence, Kelly begins to interject that "I don't think that way. I don't feel that way Reggie" as he disappears behind the refrigerator in an attempt to hide the tears that are now impossible to hold back. [cut clip from wide shot footage] | [start clip from close-up of fridge footage] Reggie: "You do! You said it! You said it time and time again on the radio show!" he sobs as he moves into view to lean on the counter with his back to the camera.
He's right. She did, and not just on the radio show either. Before she even met him, she was already forming the base opinion from which she would launch an attack that would last and be hammered on again and again the whole time she was there, pushing his buttons at every opportunity. Only the participants know how much ended up on the editing room floor, but we've seen glimpses of it all through the show, and heard about an hour of it on "The BibleGal". She came in with the head-snapping attitude that she and her life and way of doing things is as close to perfection as can be this side of God's Heaven, and obviously, an atheist household must be FUBAR. All she'd have to do is continually nitpick every aspect of it, throw the Bible and God around as proof that it's all wrong, and the Finleys and America at large would be sure to see that there's only one way to live - hers.
Leading into the commercial, the announcer comes up with: "Next, can Reggie pull himself back together after his breakdown? And later, the couples finally come face to face." Then we get a clip of them all at a table, and Reggie saying, "You just kept going, and going, and going, to the point were I broke down and cried."
Back from the commercial, Kelly insists after 'the breakdown' that Reggie take a day off, as he's in desperate need of a break. (yeah - from Kelly). She says, "...and I thought he'd look forward to us all having a day of just enjoying one another and playing." In the next scene, we see him unpacking a box of parts to build a swing set in the back yard.
Let's take a short break here... Look at the box. Seen it before? Yep - back in the dog-doo clip - it was behind his foot. So, that scene was shot more than a week after it's portrayed in the show, and now we know why he's out there cleaning up the dog shit - it's because Kelly's decided to put him to work turning the back yard from the kennel for his mom's dog into his kids' new playground. I noticed it right away while watching the show, and asked Reggie about it on the phone. "Where'd the dog go?" I asked. I knew the dog had 'issues' not suitable for companionship with children, so just cleaning up the crap and putting up a swing set wouldn't be enough. He told me that mom temporarily had someone else dog-sitting the creature away from the house for the taping.
Of course, the announcer says that Kelly has mandated that Reggie turn the "unused" back yard into a play area. Only - it wasn't "unused", and that's "why" it wasn't already a play area.
So, in a series of clips, Reggie builds the playground, the kids come out to play, Reggie and Dorian throw a football, and Reggie finally becomes the dad all of America has been waiting for. All thanks to Kelly and WifeSwap, and of course, Kelly's probably sure that God gave Reggie the understanding required to follow the playground assembly instructions.
Back at the Stonerock's, Amber's doing her 'girl time' thing with niece Taylor, who finally becomes a happy girl that might possibly mature into a healthy young woman someday. All thanks to Amber and WifeSwap - No god(s) required. Amber looks particularly fetching in the pirate hat - Can I get a "Ra-men!" Aargh!
I notice in the Amber / Taylor sequence that Amber notes while Taylor plays with the other girls that "you can see how happy she is. She's not stomping around, or angry, or pouting, or crying, or anything." Somehow, this stands out to me in another way - it tells me that Taylor probably did that stuff a lot, for Amber to just rattle them off like that.
Back in Georgia, Kelly did what any good Christian would do to get a father and son to bond: "She sent them to war." Okay, it's only laser tag, but I couldn't resist pointing out that this woman and her husband, with all the animal killing, guns, bows and arrows, spankings, soap in the mouth punishments, and analogies that compare their kids to weapons in the hands of warriors, seem to be rather violent folks to be dedicated to serving the "prince of peace". Sorry - I notice weird shit sometimes, I guess.
(BTW - Last time I played laser tags with my kids, they kicked my ass, and I think I lost 5 pounds in sweat.)
Reggie and Dorian reported having a lot of fun playing laser tag (and showed some sweat), and Reggie said that "Kelly has shown me that if you want to make time, you can make time. I'm really thankful for that." Yes, as we head toward the end of the show, the clips are beginning to show the sides of these folks they'd been suppressing in order to create their one-dimensional caricatures. Of course, we're supposed to come away with the belief, or at least the impression, that they've had some sort of significant conversion or change in their lives, attributed to the guest in their homes. The reality, of course, is that it was mostly made up on the editing room floor, and was thus not difficult to find the 'good' side of Reggie when they needed to, in order to 'bring it on home now! - Let's get that "feel-good" thing going on for the viewers at home!' That's not to say that they all didn't learn something along the way. I'm just not convinced that it was anywhere near as significant or profound a change as they portrayed through their selective editing, that's all.
Back at the Stonerock's it's time to break open the prayer box to see how much Jeff has been fined during the week. The money will go to pay for a "God-Free" party, according to what the announcer says. As always, the theist twists it - "I always taught my children 'it pays to serve God', and this time it'll pay them, so uh... hey... just a, another proof that it works! Heh heh heh..." Cute Jeff - Really. Seriously though, you wouldn't know 'proof' if it bit your nose off and shot it from a nickel-plated .44 magnum pointed up the empty nasal cavity that leads to your frontal lobe. And I say that with all the love my godless heart can muster for a guy that teaches his kids that a human being can survive in a tight-fitting closed container of fish vomit for three days and nights without air, food or fresh water, and even manage to compose some poetry while he's in there.
The total in the box comes to $63. Remember when the announcer claimed (wrongly) that Jeff had to pay $10 per offence? Remember when Amber said $1 per offence? Remember how MUCH Jeff HAD to talk about God? Let's just do a little quick math - nothing too difficult. Do you think that Jeff got caught talking about God sixty-three times, or was it six POINT three times? If you're still not sure, Amber says at this point, "That's a lot of rules being broken..." So much for the $10 per offense claim made by the announcer to hype things up a bit. Well, we shouldn't really blame him though. After all, he's probably just a voice actor, reading a 'script'. Get it?
Announcer: "It's the last night of the swap, and Reggie and Dorian have become much closer over the past week, under Kelly's rules." They're shown together in Dorian's bedroom, presumably as Dorian's about to go light's out for the night. In that shot, the microphone on the end of the boom just barely dips down from the top of the frame for a split-second, and we're reminded that it's not at all like we're really peeping in on these people and seeing them as they 'normally' are. I mean, think about it. As relaxed and 'at home' as they may appear, there in Dorian's bedroom, sharing this nice little, kinda intimate, father and son moment, a couple of feet away are a crew of people with an industrial size TV camera, sound equipment that includes a boom with a microphone on the end, maybe some lights or bounce light cards, and who knows who or what else. And this isn't on a nice big soundstage in Hollywood. It's in your house. Turn around and look behind you right now, and picture 2 or 3 people with equipment standing there looking at you, waiting for you to do something stupid; to fly off the handle; to melt down. No really, do it. Ready folks? Quiet on the set! Lights... Camera... Action!
Dorian tells us, "I feel like we have spent quality time [cut] talking every night before I go to bed [cut] Once Ms. Kelly's gone, I hope that some of these rules still apply."
In the 'father and son in the bedroom bits of the scene, we see them, and Reggie in particular, cracking up like he's just heard one of the funniest jokes ever. Whatever could it be? Well, we get a voiceover from Dorian instead, but if we tweak the audio portion a little to pull it out, it's something like this: Someone in the TV crew asks Dorian what he thinks about Kelly, and Dorian replies "Kelly's a nice person and all, but when she starts talking about the Bible, she bores me!" Hehehe... That pretty much says it all I guess.
For his part, Reggie's found that he and step-son Dorian have more in common than he realized. Yes, they never pointed that small but significant fact in the TV version of the Finley's lives. In fact, they even went so far as to list him as Dorian Finley, when that's not his last name. I suppose that small fact made it a bit easier to show less of a father and son relationship than most would normally expect, and therefore it was easier to exploit. I have a little experience in this area too. I've been married 3 times. All three of my wives had kids when we met, so I've had step-children in all my marriages. I really did grow to love them all as family, but I never felt the 'special' bond I have with my own daughter - the one I contributed sperm to make - the one I personally delivered on the day she was born - the one who felt my hands and my embrace and my kiss on her before she ever saw or felt another human being outside of the womb. I liked my step-kids a lot, but it just wasn't the same thing. No matter how close we were, how friendly, how much fun we had, there was always an invisible, separating line spoken just below a whisper: "you make a great 'dad' Buck". With my own, it's: "you make a great 'dad' DAD!" Anyway, just my 2 cents observation. Your mileage may vary.
Back at the Stonerock's it's party time on the prayer fines. Amber's invited some girls over for Taylor to hang with. Taylor says "I'm gonna miss Amber [cut] her kindness and sweetness and her love of children." Now, THAT's the Amber we know. Yes, as we get down to the last sequences of the show, the stereotypical, one-dimensional, simple-dichotomy caricatures seem to be giving way to the blossoming emergence of human beings, thanks to the editors. Add joyful music to the sound track, and all of America smiles with approval, after being on the edge of their seat, wondering how in the Hell they'd get these damned atheists to give up their heathen ways and learn to love their family. Whew! It was a close one, but somehow the editors managed to pull it off.
Jeff gives his 'emergence' dialogue about how much he liked Amber and how well they got along, even though they came from vastly different beliefs. He now recognizes Taylor's 'girly' needs and says "we're gonna work on that."
Then Amber gives her 'emergence' dialogue, which seems to be spliced from 3 to 4 different clips (who knows how far apart or in what context they were made). "I was thinking about my kids today, and I got a little weepy-eyed. I miss my babies, and [cut] I've learned that I do need to try to stay off the computer a little bit [cut] and I think that I would like to spend a little bit more time with my kids [cut] a lot more time with the kids!" It's a great, heartwarming message, but I'm here to pick at stuff...
The dialogue comes from a scene where she's sitting on the bed, looking like she's relating her final thoughts of the day to the crew. We see her mouthing the word right up until she finishes saying "I miss my babies, and". Right there, we get a new piece of video, and the audio seems to change to a different clip. Now, maybe she said something irrelevant in between this and the next clip, and it would have looked stupid to have her whole face jump, so they cut in more party action on the video while working the audio around it, or maybe she made the statement about learning that she needs 'to try to stay off the computer a little bit' at some other time. In fact, for all we KNOW, she may have related that WAY back in Georgia, when they ASKED her to play the Sims so they could get the shot, when she possibly related to them at that time that after she ended up playing it till 5 am a couple of times, she had to give it up. In fact, that would fit right into such a conversation, don't you think? And since they suddenly cut the video from her sitting there on the bed when she says it, maybe she wasn't sitting there on the bed when she said it, and that's why they had to show party footage instead. I'm just saying, it's possible. That's what critical thinking is about - separating what we KNOW from what we DON'T KNOW, and accepting that we don't, and allowing for possibilities in that regard.
We don't get video of her mouthing words on the bed again until "A lot more time with the kids." Again, I'm just going to pick here, because I can. The previous part is her saying, "and I think I would like to spend a little bit more time with the kids". First, it doesn't really seem to fit with the audio clips on both ends of it. It fits a scripted version okay, but it just doesn't sound right - it's not how people naturally talk. I figure that one possibility is that in between that and "a lot more time with the kids" someone on the crew might have asked something like, "just a 'little bit' more time?", to which she replied "a LOT more time." Another possibility, since we don't have video of her mouthing the words, is that it was made at an entirely different time in the shooting, possibly even before she left Georgia. For all we know, the whole thing goes, "and I think I would like to spend a little bit more time with the kids out in the back yard, if it weren't for the dog leaving surprises all over the place, scaring them half to death, and trying to chew their legs off!" I'm just saying... We don't KNOW.
Announcer: "Next, the couples face each other across the table, and Reggie confronts Kelly." Reggie: "you need this, you need that, I do this, we do things like this, that doesn't make any sense, that doesn't make any sense to me - and you're doing it again right here." Anybody get the feeling this woman needled him till he was ready to strangle her? LOL! Sorry Reggie! Man, I feel your paid! I really do! No way I EVER want to spend time with Kelly - I couldn't take it.
After the commercial, the wives pack up to go home.
Kelly's got information that Reggie plans to buy more socks, because they'll be spending more time outside, and she's very proud of "bringing that to this family". Other than self-pride, we can't tell if she got or learned anything in the experience - she doesn't say.
Speaking of 'outside' time, I'd been watching for all that Stonerock outside time, but they seemed to stay indoors the whole time Kelly was away. Then I thought back (waaaay back, 'cause I'm old) to my own Michigan childhood and my own Christian parents, who also had 6 kids in the house, and how they would tell us to go outside and play in the snow. And they would tell me that over and over until I did as I was told, even though it was actually rare for me to want to go out and play in the cold and the snow. Hmmm... Makes me wonder if she's really running around out in the yard with her kids 'every' day or just throwing them out of the house for some peace and quiet, the way my mom did.
Reggie says he sees his family in an entirely different way. He appreciates Dorian far more than he could have ever imagined.
Amber's time with Taylor has led her to believe that she could be spending more time with her children.
We don't hear what Jeff's learned or gained, at least not at this point.
The limos pull up, and there's snow on the ground, so I guess Reggie flew to Michigan for the reunion. They embrace their real spouses, and man would I have been happy to see Amber if I was Reggie! Then they all go inside because, well, it's freaking Michigan, and our winters are not kind.
The announcer tells us "It's 'judgment' time, as the couples come face to face across the table." The sequence starts with a clip of Kelly saying "I thought it was hard". We assume she's talking about the time with the Reggie or the time away from her husband or the time away from her kids or the time away from making snow angels, 'cause it's just not the same in Georgia mud. Of course, she might just be talking about Jeff's butt again, but you know me - I hesitate to speculate.
She continues, "It was hard because he was concerned a lot, worried a lot..."
Reggie: "Concerned about... worried about what? I'm not seeing what your saying..."
Kelly: "It just felt like you were..."
Reggie: "You called me self-centered"
Kelly: "I still do think that too much of the household revolves around you and your needs."
Reggie turns to Amber and asks/exclaims: "You see this crap?!"
Amber, "now - that's okay." In a tone that says 'fuck her', nicely of course, cause it's Amber.
Cross talk over first part of Kelly: "and that's what I said - the general environment was negative."
Reggie: "That's the only problem I've ever had with you in my home, is that it seemed like you were always looking for something negative. Every way you turned, you were looking for something wrong in my home. You kept voicing it - You need this, you need that, I do this, we do things like this, that doesn't make any sense, that doesn't make any sense to me - you just kept going and going and going and going, to the point where I broke down and cried - because you would not stop doing that - and you're doing it again right here."
Now, I'm not going to go through and pick out every one of them, but there are several cuts and edits in the above sequence of exchanges, though the final rant by Reggie seems to be mostly non-stop and continuous. Amber's arm goes magically from her face to her lap to her face faster than possible in the time given, in one section, and makes no sense, unless the clip with her arm in her lap was spliced into the middle of a clip where it's up to her face, cutting that in half. The audio gets kinda mismatched here and there, especially the crosstalk cited at the beginning of some of Kelly's dialogue - it just cuts in suddenly out of nowhere, like there was something leading up to it.
Jeff speaks next, but it seems to come out of left field as well: "Yeah, uh... in my couple weeks with Amber, Amber didn't present anything that your family's doing, or anything that we did together that she implemented that, um, I could see would benefit our family any more." Well, now we know what he 'gained' from the experience. Not a single thing.
Amber: "The only rules about the family life that I hoped you could've taken away was, of course, Taylor - you know, giving her more time. And uh..."
Kelly: "and we - I do take that away. I do take that."
Kelly: "In MY experience of living your life, I saw you as paying the day care to watch your kids while you were playing on the computer a lot."
Amber: "Yeah, sometimes I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing."
Kelly: "And so we put them in a toddler group, where, where I went with them and it's a group that meets together so that they can have interaction with other kids, and it's a wonderful opportunity for YOU to develop friendships as well, with other people being part of a toddler group."
Amber: "And I would, I really would like some outside interaction with other people but - it's just that some of the experiences we've had - sometimes makes you go, well I - I give up."
Reggie: "It's unfortunate that today, because atheism is - has such a negative stigma attached to it, that when I actually do try to have - establish friendships with people - once they discover that I don't believe, they shy away."
Jeff: "We're as repulsed of that kind of behavior as you are. But we believe that's not what the Bible teaches." Kelly's probably thinking, "We do? Shoot - maybe I shouldn't have been such a bitch to him... Oh well - gosh my nails are pretty! I wish there was a mirror behind Reggie and Amber - I bet I'll look great on TV."
Reggie: "By default, I can't have anything to offer because I don't have the 'fruit' of Christianity. By - by default, so no one's looking for anything that's good in us, because we don't believe."
Kelly: "You will meet people that will care for you for who you are."
Jeff: "Like, like us. There's people like us out there who'd be your friends"
Jeff: "There are!" He's grinning like he's just figured out a way to get the heathen couple to Christ - They have NO friends! We'll be their friends! We'll hook them up with other Christians in Georgia to be their friends! We'll take them to church to meet even MORE friends. And then, they can meet my BEST friend (who still isn't talking to me - but I KNOW he's listening). Why, the very thought causes a grin that's about to split his head in half.
Reggie: "So maybe Christians like you should join OUR side, you know, to help fight the, the bigots..." (cross-talk ensues as they jump in to be on 'our' side.)
Kelly: "Well, we would be on your side - in that, subject."
Jeff: "If you heard me teach - I am fighting for what you're saying."
Kelly: "MY Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself."
Oh, please. Be for real Kelly. You could never love anyone as much as you love yourself, could you? That's the impression I've gotten from the past 40 minutes of watching you flutter about like you're the center of the universe. Okay, I admit it - The BibleGal show screwed your image up pretty badly, but watching you in action just confirmed my worst fears, and now I have to apologize to everyone out there and tell them - Not all of us in Michigan are like her! Please believe me! We're not Kansas!!! <sob>
Of course, there's a bunch more editing and cuts and splices, both video and audio, mixed and matched, in and out of sequence, to make it say what the editors want it to say, in the context they want to convey, rather than the context it was probably in, and much of the splicing is pretty obvious, just like the rest of the show. The biggest difference in the 'couples together' footage is that it looks like there actually are at least two cameras involved, probably the one from each house, so the splicing can be a lot more liberal and at the same time be far less noticeable.
Now we get a shot of Kelly and Amber hugging, and Reggie and Jeff hugging, all like they're best friends, then it's the big reunion with the kids. And in the blink of an eye, Reggie and Amber are magically transported from somewhere in Michigan to home in Georgia, while the Stonerocks are genie-blinked to their own home for the happy reunions.
Now why did I bring that up? Because it's obvious, that's why. That's editing in action. One second they're in Michigan, and the next second, they're in Georgia. "Big deal" you say - we KNOW that! Sure you do - we all do - and we all take it for granted. We overlook editing as easily as we overlook the pavement of a sidewalk we're walking on to get somewhere in a hurry. Anything could be going on down there in the details. All we care about are the big points looming right in front of us in glowing neon - the ones we can't miss - the ones that are placed there intentionally for us to notice - intentionally to sell us something.
In the end, the Finley's are magically transmogrified into warm human beings who are no longer self-centered, but loving, caring people who notice their kids for the first time, and it turns out they like 'em and want to hang out with 'em. Yay.
The Stonerocks now treat Kelly more like a girl, have started a BibleGal web site, Jeff preaches love for everybody, even atheists, unconditionally, and of course, he's so thankful - he's living like a king - fists in the air - and glowing with the power of the lard to wrap things up on this episode of Wife Swap.
But wait! There's MORE! Yes indeed folks, as the credits roll, we get a final look, as Jeff attempts to kill moving targets with a dodge-ball, knocking kids over like they're made of Styrofoam. Amber exclaims that she's scared of Jeff and the way he "whips that ball". Me too, but apparently, his wife digs that stuff. Go figure. In fact, he makes it a point to say that if she were there, he'd be going for her.
Ahhh... Nothing like some good old fashioned "ball-whipping", now is there?
Buck Cash. (Check out his killer website - Ed.)
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Show, But Were Afraid To Ask!
~The Finleys squeal! Get the inside scoop on what really went on behind the scenes! ~
* Inside The Finleys mp3 file.
Pastor Jeff Stonerock Talks About His Path to Christ - HERE