After a lot of cajoling, I finally watched (as much as I could stomach) of The Apprentice. I say 'as much as I could stomach' because I actually found my reaction to be visceral. The experience of watching it was for me so distasteful that it hit me at a gut level, and in groping for words to name my feelings, the only ones that I could come to were 'soul-wounding'. It simply cannot be good for the soul to watch people go at each other in such an in-human way, and in-human is the only way to describe it. We say no less about ancient gladiatorial games. The only difference seems to be suits rather than arms, but both are savage. Why do we consider this entertainment?
This is more than simple competition. It is a mixture of competitiveness and greed combined with an obsessional desire for celebrity status, and as such represents a new development in television programming. The Apprentice is only one example on television. There is Big Brother (and all its little off-shoots), as well as various singing/acting/dancing/cooking programmes which pit people against each other with some promise of wealth (if they 'win'), but no less the possibility of eventual celebrity-ism even if they 'lose'. These latter may not be as nasty or bitchy as The Apprentice or Big Brother but they do amount to the same.
The entire genre encourages an ugly form of individualism, while at the same time giving lip service to the benefits of 'teamwork'. 'Teamwork' is beneficial only in so far as an individual can use the efforts of the team to bolster her or his own position or highlight their own achievements. There is nothing collaborative here, it is in fact a prostitution of 'teamwork', where working together is merely a means to a very personal and individual end. When push comes to shove each person will do exactly that.
Perhaps it's me. I am not really competitive by nature and I remember that as a child I enjoyed playing games much more than winning them. I just didn't care that much. But, am I the only person that finds this all so inhumanely distasteful?