Friday, October 14, 2011

Shocker: Dr. Phil Sucks

Today, I worked from home. I was super productive, and it was wonderful. One of my work from home perks is that I get to work with the TV going. I'm someone who has always enjoyed just a smidge of background noise to best get "in the zone." My TVs on a lot.

Eventually, Dr. Phil came on and this promo played before the episode started. (I removed the embedded video because it automatically started playing when you visit the page...ANNOYING.)

I left my apartment about 3 minutes into the episode so didn't see how the rest played out, but I don't really need to, do I? The misogyny is running DEEP here in just the promo. Firstly, Dr. Phil asks the man who is also an adult film star how he feels about men seeing his wife naked. Seriously? Does he think that the dude needs to protect her from this? Who's looking out for him? He's naked too, I assume! Then, the woman obviously doesn't regret her decision and is proud that they make $62,000 a week (a freaking WEEK! I'd be proud too!) and yet Dr. Phil wants to make her feel like shit and drag their daughter into it. I mean, it'd be one thing if they were making the pornography in front of her, but there's no indication she's in danger.

(Here, I will skillfully avoid the feminism of sex work debate, because that, my friends, is too big a topic for a blog about Dr. Phil.)

Like I said, I didn't see the episode, but this little clip certainly bugged me and it seems like Dr. Phil is employing a double standard in his approach. Obviously, he's not patting the man on the back and giving him a high five for being a pornstar, but he seems to come down particularly hard on the wife. Kudos, DP, so original. No one has ever slut-shamed before.

I know I'm quite late to the party in writing about how Dr. Phil is no good--but truthfully, he just hasn't been a part of my consciousness in a really, really long time. Around my freshmen-sophomore years of college, I didn't have cable and the only station that my rabbit ears picked up was the local NBC affiliate. I watched NBC any time I was watching TV, which was often, since I like my TV on while doing homework and such. So yeah, Dr. Phil was on, as was literally every other show that NBC ran. I didn't religiously watch him, but I was quite, quite familiar with him.

I was a wee little budding feminist at the time and I didn't think too critically about too much, but I do remember him rubbing me the wrong way more than once. Now that I've been reminded he exists and I see this clip, I totally get why he was starting to bother me. (And that was in 2005! When will he go away?) His show is all around pretty damn sexist, and as far as being a "doctor" goes, he's shady. I mean, even his Wikipedia page is riddled with lawsuits and controversies.

So yes, I'm stating the obvious--Dr. Phil sucks. But one question remains. Dr Phil, the whole misogyny thing, how's that working for ya?


  1. I think judging an episode by it's promo is kind of irresponsible. Also, she said up to $2,000 a week and judging from the promo, I'm not seeing where Dr. Phil is trying to make her feel like shit. He asked a legit question about how they planned to tell their daughter about what they do for a living. These people volunteered to go on his show where they knew they were going to be interviewed about this and asked such questions.

  2. Wow, I thought for sure I'd never see a Dr. Phil defense. From anyone, really.

    Firstly, I don't think it's so bad to judge a show by its promo. If I was claiming I knew it all from this clip, that would be a problem, but I'm being honest that I am taking them at their own sound bites. Usually shows package promos to be their "best of" in order to draw in viewers and showcase the footage they are most proud of. This is their own story that they promoted. I didn't cut it together to create an inaccurate depiction of the episode.

    I have a distinct issue with the material of their chosen clips, so I have outlined that. And what's "irresponsible" in judging TV programs at all? This is not a person I am judging--where my assessment of them could be unfair and hurtful. It's a *tv show.* I'm allowed to dislike it.

    Secondly, I tried to listen to the figure she quoted about 10 times to really understand what it was (she mumbles a bit) and I kept hearing 62,000, but even if it is "6 to 2,000" I don't see how that changes my point that she is proud of her choice.

    Lastly, yes, of course they came on the show and volunteered to be a part of it (obviously to get more traffic to their porn careers.) However, that doesn't mean they *must* be subjected to sexist questions like, "Are you OK with men looking at your wife naked?" or whatever. It doesn't take away Dr. Phil's doucheiness because they're probably douches too.

    Seriously, Dr. Phil kind of sucks all around. Like, feminism aside, he dishes out sound bites and catch phrases and calls it advice. It's sensationalized tripe that caters to the lowest common denominator for ratings. There's not much more to say.

  3. He could have asked the woman how she felt about other women looking at her husband naked right before or after he asked the man. If he, during any time of the show, asked that then I don't see it as a sexist question, but just a mere question on both counterparts how they feel about a certain factor of their work.

    Maybe we are both just bias because I like Dr. Phil and it appears you don't. At first I thought he was a rude arrogant prick but I think she tells people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, and I understand that the majority of people aren't comfortable with that. It takes a strong person to take criticism well, to be told they are in the wrong, and to be served with witty one liners. I would love a few advice sessions with him because I know he won't comfort with me false promises and unrealistic ideas to boost my ego only to be torn down the average "best friend" would.

  4. Dr. Phil isn't supposed to be a best friend, he's supposed to be a psychologist. I'm in graduate school preparing to become a therapist, and the professors use Dr. Phil's techniques as an example of what NOT to do. He is only interested in making good TV. If he truly wanted to help people, he would be using evidenced-based treatment modalities - not "witty one liners."

  5. What I meant is that he isn't supposed to be a best friend. He's there to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear which is why a lot of people don't like him. I don't understand why people think his advice is worthless. If people would just do what he suggests instead of reject what he is saying, most of the time they would be better off in their lives. Yeah, he's often harsh but people need that to actually get some shit through their heads. I know we are sliding off topic here but I'm sorry I just think when it comes to Dr. Phil and the advice he offers, people just don't like him because they just aren't ready to handle what they need to hear.

  6. Yes, you are correct. But the reasons therapists do not force patients to confront issues they are not ready to confront is because it is ineffective. Most likely the person will walk out of your office and never come back, no matter how right you are. If you actually want to help someone, you have to take the time to gently guide them towards their own realizations. I know Dr. Phil doesn't have time to do that during a 1-hour-with-commercials time slot. That is why I say he's in the business of making good TV, not in the business of being a good psychologist. It doesn't mean he's necessarily always wrong in what he's telling people, but if the people are not ready to hear it, it can actually backfire to confront them with it.

  7. My issue with doctor phil is the incredible amount of contempt he seems to show for his female clients. He is demeaning, critical and very judgemental. Then when there is blame to be placed it almost ALWAYS falls on the mother. Even when a father is completely absent, he rarely if ever calls him out or places blame on him. Furthermore, it doesn't take even 5 or 10 seconds to simply include a sentiment of understanding, compassion, or empathy to soften the guest up and make them more receptive to his advice. He also fails to call abuse when it is present. I have watched so many shows where a couple is arguing and the man exhibits some of the most clear signs of emotional and mental abuse (and even physical sometimes) and Dr Phil literally glosses right over it. I used to enjoy the show, but the more I watch, the more I pick up on these patterns. The targets of his "tough love" attitude are almost always women, and when he DOES confront a man it is usually about being irresponsible, or just your stereotypical "dumb husband" - and he almost always fails to call out abusive men.

  8. ^ My sentiments exactly, Sasha. I hate to admit that Dr. Phil is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I DO watch it religiously and feel ashamed of it because I know just how terrible he is to women. In my defense, I spend a lot of my time watching the show pissed off, practically yelling at the TV, thinking how I would like to criticize him. It makes me sick that he portrays himself as a sweet ol' country boy who just wants to help people, who with his celebrity status and nationwide audience really COULD make a difference and help, but instead he chooses to cater to the masses for ratings and perpetuate misogyny and rape culture. I am by no means a supporter but as an outspoken feminist and activist, I watch the show in the spirit of "knowing your enemy."


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