Intervention as a Spectator Sport

As a dedicated blogger, we spend
a lot more time reading about TV shows than actually watching them,  Rarely
are we even tempted to turn our attention away from the screen and towards
the tube.  However, when this review appeared in the morning paper,
we were hooked.

A&E’s ”Intervention" is the latest faux
reality philanthropy, and it ranks as one of the rankest. On the surface,
it’s a benevolent
effort to reveal the power and beauty of interventions, which find
loved ones confronting an addict about his problem and instantly removing
to rehab. But underneath the charitable veneer, the show, which premieres
tomorrow, is about watching broken addicts destroy themselves.

A promising premise. Self-destructive
behavior is hypnotizing and quintessentially American.

In the premiere, we meet two drug addicts, a cocaine freak named Tommy
who has snorted away his fortune and Alyson the former White House
intern, whose many habits includes crack, heroin, pot, and morphine.

Sound like our kind of people! Junkies are definitely
an underrepresented minority on network TV these days. Alyson, in particular,
sounds like a real piece of work.  She "cleans her dope in her bedroom
in her parents’ home, fires up her bong, steals painkillers from her
dying father, and scores and smokes crack with a friend."

In real life, unfortunately, interventions are rarely
completely successful.  They can be motivated by the wrong reasons,
and miss the cause of the offending behavior completely. They are often
power plays by parents who have lost control of and contact with their
kids for reasons beyond their understanding or ability to fix. Don’t
forget, the methodology of Intervention was first popularized by families
to pry their
kids from cults and out-of-the-mainstream religions, and to "cure" homosexuality.

Even when they are justified, motivated by real love and carried out by professionals, there is no guarentee of success. If a junkie has it bad, you can break both of their arms and tie them to a bed, and they will still figure out a way to sneak out and get high. Believe us, we’ve tried this.

We write from experience.  Back in college, the
Dowbrigade was the recipient of an intervention organized by our
roommates and other friends who cared for us in a real way and wanted
to help us
overcome some very objectionable and worrisome behavior.

Although we missed Harvard’s Golden Age of Psychedelic
Development, when Timothy Leary was wandering around Harvard Yard offering
$20 cash to anyone willing to troop down to William James Hall, drop
acid, and let a bunch of goofy grad students poke ’em and ask questions,
by the early 70’s there were more drugs on campus than there are now
in our junk email filter.  We were basically guinea pigs
for the Harvard Chemistry Department, who were turning out new compounds
weekly, things with wild aconomytic names never heard of before, or since.
And that was before we joined the Anthropology Department, became an
Ethno-botanist, and started bringing even more exotic stuff back from
Amazon expeditions.

Bizarre, inexplicable events were de rigueur in those
days, so we were not overly surprised when four or five unseen voices
and twice that many hands grabbed us in a hall of Winthrop House late
one night, threw a sheet over our head, and hustled us into a nearby
after being pancaked between mattresses, berated in three languages and
lashed with a wet, psychedelic, paisley tie, we were told the reason
for the Intervention.

It seems that our friends and roommates could no longer
stand by or stand at all our annoying habit of not returning LP’s to
their paper sleeves and cardboard covers! (for those of you born after
were those big black petrochemical frisbees which were the dominant
format of recorded music before the CD – what our kids call "those big
old floppy disks") We would leave the actual 33 rpm records
strewn around the room, naked, vulnerable to scratches or stains, and
sometimes, distracted by real or imagined interventions inside our head,
we would wander off, our musical mess completely forgotten. Our friends
had had enough of this inexcusable behavior.

Hmmm. It seems that our personal experiences contradict
our original point, and argue that interventions really do work.  Now
that we think about it, it has been years since we’ve left a record out
of its paper sleeve or cardboard

Intervention Review from the
Boston Globe

Intervention debuts Sunday night at 10 on A & E

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