Reality shows. If the term itself makes you cringe, imagine this. You are a military spouse blogger, or a military widow blogger. You receive an e-mail from a “talent” group, trolling for a widow to take part in a “bachelorette” type reality show. You respond to this e-mail, either informing them that you are married (which is obvious from a cursory review of your blog) or if you are a widow, that you either do not wish to hear anything more about this, or that you are already in a relationship and, again, do not wish to continue to receive e-mails.
Unfortunately, this “talent” group either cannot read, or is too busy or uncaring to actually take notice of your wishes. You will then receive a “follow-up” e-mail. One widow who has commented on more than one Facebook group said she has received three of these emails, and has told them to cease, desist and go away!
Now some have said we should simply ignore these, delegate them to the spam filter or hit delete. And since I have received a selection of e-mails concerning my blog (although I have been lucky enough not to get this one), I understand why this attitude is prevalent. But I’m going to ask you to think, think that a widow whether military or nonmilitary, finds this type of request to be in bad taste.
When you are a Gold Star widow, the military community will create a defensive barrier to make sure that you are not being harassed in any way, that you are protected from scam artists, parasites and vultures, the ones that come out of the woodwork, wrapped in a flag and telling you how much they value your sacrifice and oh, please sign on the dotted line.
When reality shows first began, they were supposed to show us different sides of life, to make us laugh at the common foibles of humanity. Candid Camera and other shows made us laugh. The “real housewives” series are a sometimes guilty pleasure for some, a cringeworthy show reinforcing stereotypes of others, a show that feeds the need to peek in other people’s windows.
Here are examples of the emails that were sent to one blogger. This blogger is a military spouse, who makes it clear from a cursory look at her blog, that she is married, happily so.
The first email is:
My name is *****, and I am a Casting Associate with the production company [no, I won’t link to them] in Los Angeles. We are currently casting a new documentary style relationship series for CBS, and while researching, I stumbled upon The Widow’s Peek through Widow’s Christian Place.
Our show is entitled “Three” and it is a series that chronicles three different woman as they search for love. I assure you I would not be reaching out if I thought this show would in any way trivialize or exploit anyone’s situation, but rather, we are interested in featuring the journey of a widow in the hopes of inspiring women who also find themselves in a similar position. I have had the pleasure of seeing the first season of the original show (from Israel) and I can say with much confidence that this show is unlike anything a US audience has seen. It does not follow the conventions we are used to seeing in a “reality” show.
I understand that this is presumptuous, and I assure you I mean no disrespect, but I did want to reach out to inquire if you may be interested in learning more about the show and passing along our casting notice to your fellow widow community.
Details can be found at [no, I won’t link there either] I would love the opportunity to tell you more about the project. I can be reached at ********* or by emailing ******. If you personally know someone that you think would be great for an amazing experience as this please have the email me with their contact information, a recent photo and a short paragraph about them.
I thank you for your time.
After she was told that this was obviously a mistake, that the milspouse blogger would not forward this, that she did not want to be contacted again, she received a second email:
I’m sorry and apologize for offending but your blog doesn’t give me too much information on your marital status and since the website I saw your blog on reaches out to the widow community I can only assume and then reach out to see if you could assist. No one else has to mind because I’m just innocently reaching out.
Good luck with your blog
Now if I got one of these – since I’m in the midst of deployment – it would upset me to a degree that I may not feel when not in that very stressful, somewhat thin-skinned time. Because when I’m reading the latest news, the latest casualty figures, I’d rather not think about being a widow! As for trying to use me as a conduit to any of the spouses I know who are still mourning, or who are trying to start again? Are you NUTS?
This is, to me, a question of taste. Why would anyone think that trolling for widows had any class or taste? And if you are told go away, why would you do a follow-up? Why wouldn’t you simply go away and take the person off the mailing list? Better yet, if you really feel this type of “reality” show has any redeeming merit in any way at all, just announce it – if someone wants to take part, they will contact you. Leave the rest of us alone.
Photo from robbplusjessie via flickr