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Sept. 9, 2020

“Queen For A Day” vs The Politics of Making Lives Better (EP.262)

“Queen For A Day” vs The Politics of Making Lives Better (EP.262)


Queen For A Day was a popular radio and TV program that ran for 20 years, starting in 1945. The “contestants” were women who would tell their tales of woe, often crying in the process, hoping to persuade the audience that their plight was worse than the others, thus deserving of the cash and other prizes. 

Sarcastically referred to as “Poverty Porn”, Queen For A Day was not only a precursor to future TV giveaway shows, it unwittingly preceded the creation of the victim hierarchy, wherein various identity groups vie with one another to claim being the worst off, therefore winning the title of being the most deserving. Instead of the Biggest Loser being about the person who was disciplined enough to lose the most weight, this version of the Biggest Loser is exactly that; the one who has lost the most and has not come up with a fix somehow winds up being the biggest winner.

That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode. 


In QFA, female contestants worked to convince the audience their tale of woe was the worst, and therefore more deserving, than the others who were also pouring forth their stories. All while adding as much drama as possible in the hopes of convincing the studio audience. The audience did not vote, as in one vote per person; an “Applause Meter” was used. The woman with the loudest response won. Not unlike today, where the groups that make the most noise, peaceful or not, are considered by many as the most deserving.

Sponsors also won. The show was very popular for many years, giving sponsors of QFA widespread exposure for their products, many of which were offered as prizes. 

The radio and television networks, including ABC and NBC were also big winners. The show hosts, notably Jack Bailey, and the staff were also winners. 

So, Will, were there losers? Yes, the contestants, the audience, and most of all the so-called winner. The winner, to the musical accompaniment of “Pomp and Circumstance“, would be draped in a sable-trimmed red velvet robe, given a glittering jeweled crown to wear, placed on a velvet-upholstered throne, and handed a dozen long-stemmed roses to hold while her list of prizes was announced. Even if we do not recognize the name of the celebration tune, we have all heard it, likely many times. This is the traditional song played during graduations, graduations being a celebration of years of achievement. Queen For A Day used it to celebrate the person for whom the audience made the loudest noise in support of her tale of woe, her applause-seeking hand wringing and tales of misery.

Yes, I am being critical of the show, but more to the point I am being critical of the Queen For A Day philosophy too many of us, and too many politicians and other so called leaders, have developed and are pushing on our society today. QFA itself had critics. “Veteran television writer Mark Evanier has called the program ‘one of the most ghastly shows ever produced.’ He further described it as ‘tasteless, demeaning to women, demeaning to anyone who watched it, cheap, insulting and utterly degrading to the human spirit.’” -Wikipedia. I am being critical of today’s growing Queen For A Day philosophy. Queen For a Day was all about rewarding being down and out, and made that into a contest, celebrating the woman who best convinced the audience to respond to her situation and drama with the most raucous applause.

Applause? Yes, applause. Tales of tough times and crying were rewarded with applause, prizes and a major feel-good celebration. QFA did not even mention job training or any form of self-reliance. None of the prizes had anything to do with a daycare award if the lady needed that to go to work. And nothing was ever anyone’s fault; they were a parade of victims, each hoping to be seen as the biggest victim. The final cruelty was playing the graduation song for the winner as she donned a robe and a crown. 

Today’s Key point: Isn’t that exactly what we are doing more and more today? We are rewarding those who are down and out, or at least claim to be, for simply being where they are. And the ones who make the most noise registered on today’s applause meter of the polls and media attention are declared to be the winning victims, and get the most cash and other benefits. 

We must, of course, help those in need. Always. And we need to do it in a way that whenever possible the ones who need and receive help, can get back on their feet, relying on themselves, and in turn be able to help others. The medical concept of triage is very helpful here. 

Medical triage originated in World War I. Wounded soldiers were classified into one of three groups: 

  1. Those who could be expected to live without medical care,
  2. Those who will most likely die even with care, and 
  3. Those who could survive if they received care. 

So, let’s look at how this definition can guide today’s discussion. The two main tenets of Revolution 2.0™ are Personal Responsibility and being Your Brothers Keeper. 

Here is what Brother’s Keeper Triage looks like:

  1. Those who do not need help. 
  2. These are the people who, unlike in the medical world, will choose not to survive, and certainly not thrive. They want permanent help, regardless of their actual needs or abilities.
  3. Everybody else. Including you and me.

The primary reason that category 2 above, in the Brother’s Keeper triage, is much larger than it needs to be, is that 95% of the people in this category, this level of triage, have been taught to think the way they do. They have been taught the Queen For A Day approach to being down and out. The righteousness of being victims, the correctness of blaming others, and the necessity of taking instead of giving. We, you and I, must teach this group how things really work if they want to succeed. And get them to believe. Believe. Get them to believe that they can help themselves. Once they believe, and oh-so-many will believe if we encourage them, teaching them how is just logistics. The other 5% in this category truly need full and permanent assistance. And must receive it.

For more on this key subject, please review episode 156, Fish wisdom; Vital lessons for Today

Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know. 

As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.


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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.