A hickie from Kenickie

I used to be a fan of Dr. Drew Pinsky. I used to listen to him on Loveline. That was back when Adam Corolla was the co-host (or was he the host?). That was years ago. Nowadays, Dr. Drew’ got a TV show. Well, actually he has a few of them. He’s got Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers, which, if I was asked to describe it, I would say that it’s a smash up of an episode of the Jerry Springer Show and a counseling session with a high school guidance counselor. You know, that one. There’s Dr. Drew’s basic cable TV show (I guess that’s for the high-brow, well-informed, politically active demographic… but then it does follow the Nancy Grace show). And then, there’s VH-1’s Celebrity Rehab.

A better name for this “TV show” would have been The Marginally Famous Bottom of the Barrel Variety Hour.

I know, I’m hatin’.

The thing that gets me about this show is the fact that a) it’s on TV, and b) I was under the impression that proper rehabilitation requires, what is that thing called — anonymity. Ok, I realize that famous people need to be famous, even when they are systematically destroying their lives and the lives of their family and friends with their chronic drug use. And the show never said it was an AA meeting. These things are almost forgivable. What’s not forgivable, however, is the fact that no one on the show ever seems to get sober. Former Guns N Roses drummer Steven Adler and famous for being his daughter’s father, also known as Michael Lohan, are series regulars. I looked up Dr. Drew’s celebrity rehab success rate (because I’m curious about stuff like that) and the show’s FAILURE rate is 76%. Worse yet, three celebrity rehabers have died.

Alright, so far, they say that Rodney King (may have) drowned.

That can’t be a good thing.

I know that I posted some time ago about The Bad Girl’s Club and the fact that I could not (I still can’t) find a reason to justify this show existing. But, what Dr. Drew is doing is a worser kind of philosophical crime. You see, he thinks that he means well and that he is performing a public service. If the audience can see how drugs screw up the lives of people who have everything (fame, fortune, etc.), we can see that drugs are bad for everybody.

Jeff Conaway went from looking like this

to this

If this is what Dr. Drew’s intention is, then his intentions are good. But what about the “celebrites” on the show? Their (the “celebrities” on the show) intention (I’m assuming here) is to get sober. If Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab failure rate is above average, then perhaps what his celebrity clients need isn’t to be on TV but to get effective treatment. If we think about Dr. Drew’s show philosophically we have a fairly strong Kantian justification for disapproving of the show — no matter what intention Dr. Drew claims that his show serves.

Television, at its heart, is meant to entertain. And we, the audience enjoy a good show. We enjoy watching the “celebrity” rehabers at their worst. And really, the entertainment happens when they screw up. We eagerly await the relapses. We want these people to fail so we can see them back again next season.

And with Steven Adler that’s almost a 100% guarantee.

But, if we are watching for mere entertainment, aren’t we just using these “celebrities” as mere means to our ends? We want to be entertained; not to help. We aren’t watching to see that drugs are bad; our watching is purely exploitive. We watch to laugh, to ridicule, and for the pleasure of saying “I’m not surprised” when one of them dies.

I realize that the TV is there to entertain, but really, is Dr.Drew’s kind of entertainment really what I (or we) need to see?


On Arriving At the Horrible Realization That Philosophy Is Important to No One but Me

A few years ago, I went to a lecture in Claremont (that’s in California) to see Peter Singer. If you don’t know who Peter Singer is (there’s a fairly good chance you don’t), just remember this: Peter Singer is the philosopher who is best known for people thinking that he’s totally into eugenics.

I’m not sure if that’s what Peter Singer’s philosophy is about, and really, it’s not important that he is. You see, I know I saw Peter Singer speak. But for the life of me, I literally have no memory of what he wad talking about.

And that’s the problem with philosophy. Nobody ever remembers what philosophers talk about. Sure, we all know that philosophers talk about complex stuff and about life and whatnot, but do we really remember anything specific about what they say?

I remember lots of things about things that I’ve done: I remember sticking a pair of tweezers in an electrical socket when I was a kid. I remember the first DVD I ever bought (Caddyshack), and I remember shaking former president Clinton’s hand at a political rally. I remember having a conversation years ago with a guy who remembered the time when he and his  girlfriend met the dude from nine inch nails and that his girlfriend totally said to the dude’s face that he was shorter than she expected.

I remember all that, but not what Peter Singer said.

Mind you, I was there. I can even name the people who I was with, and what we did afterwards. But I just can’t remember that lecture.

These are the notes I took during Peter Singer’s lecture






When I was in high school, I went with a friend to see The Cure in concert. Even though I spent the entire show standing next to two individuals who I can only assume were on the executive board of NORML, I remember the opening act (The Cranes), how much the female lead singer’s voice irritated me, what Robert Smith wore, and that The Cure played the song “Wish” on the encore. I remember there were thousands of people there to see the concert that night. If I had to guess how many people were at that Peter Singer lecture, I’d say the crowd topped out at (maybe) 50 people. I’m not saying that Peter Singer sucks or anything (I guess I would if I believed that he’s totally into eugenics), but philosophy lectures aren’t exactly rock concerts. People aren’t very enthusiastic about seeing philosophers because unless you’re a fan, you won’t hear anything you’ll remember years later

Obviously this has to change. The philosopher Colin McGinn proposes that philosophy undergo a name change. McGinn writes:

“I have a bold proposal: Let us drop the name “philosophy” for the discipline so-called and replace it with a new one. The present name is obsolete, misleading and harmful — long past its expiration date.”

I don’t know if a name change is going to solve the problem. We can call philosophy “hot steamy sex with your left toe”, but so long as philosophers continue to say things that are un-memorable a semantic switcheroo won’t help.

Until we figure out what to do, philosophy is doomed.

I recommend backup dancers and flashpots.



  1. Colin McGinn. “Philosophy by Another Name”. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/philosophy-by-another-name/