Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Gong Show

We're running out of current pop culture metaphors for the doctor's deal, so I thought I'd dig one out of the dustbin.

Decades before we were introduced to American Idol and its many imitators, North American TV viewers shared in the audience experience of a real-live talent show through the awesomeness of the infamous Gong Show. For those either too young to know of this masterpiece of a program, or lucky enough to have blocked it from their memories, it went like this:

The host, Chuck Barris, would come out on stage (in all likelihood intoxicated), and without any evidence of concern for what came out of his mouth, proceed to introduce a series of people abasing themselves before various comic actors (Steve Martin, Jamie Farr), and singer Jaye P. Morgan, all in the name of getting the highest possible score. If the acts were really awful, they would get "gong"ed off the stage by the judges. All this happened in front of an (also in all likelihood intoxicated) audience of yahoos, booing and razzing their lungs out, generally having a gaye-olde-tyme.

Notable acts to appear on the Gong Show included the Popsicle Twins, whose lurid performance art - with popsicles - drew enough ire from network executives that the same-day broadcast on the west coast was cancelled;

Michael Winslow, the human sound effect machine whose talent breathed life into the Police Academy saga;

Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, who inspired panelist Jaye P. Morgan to expose her breasts onscreen;

And of course, that master of corny one-liners, the Unknown Comic.

What the hell got into people in the 1970s?

Oh. Right.

Anyway, the inspiration behind this trip down bad-TV-memory lane is the upcoming General Meeting of the Ontario Medical Association. To bring you up to speed: on August 14th, a general (i.e. all-members) meeting of the OMA is being convened to vote on the tentative agreement between the province's doctors and the government. I've had multiple prior posts on the deal, and it's all over the news, so no sense rehashing rehashed details.

Some of the doctors are right some pissed, pretty much about everything related to the deal and the upcoming meeting: details of the deal; lack of details in the deal; the process by which the deal was negotiated; the timing (i.e. summer) to try and ratify the deal; the promotional campaign on the part of the OMA; how the electronic proxy ballots were designed; what the proxy ballots asked; and who said what to whom and how. This all culminated in an 11th-hour trip to court - courtesy of the province's radiologists - which sent the ballot back to the drawing board, and an aggressive web- and social media-based "vote no" counter-campaign.

The pop culture comparisons (including a few of my own) have been coming fast and furious: it's a comic book Civil War! It's an Amy Winehouse song! Game of Thrones! One need only scroll through, say, Andre Picard's Twitter feed to get a sense of how bitter some of the name-calling is getting as well.

Suffice it to say the meeting will be a veritable gong show, with a whole lot of finger-pointing and raised voices. Here's hoping the doctors can at least do better than Question Period, though that bar is not set particularly high.

Oh, and however the vote goes, the doctors are apparently going to need a lot of condoms at that meeting to prevent a Zika outbreak. Who knew?

At some point, it would be nice if someone figured out how all this matters to the patients, but hey, it's only health care. Personally, I'll be kicking back on a real holiday the weekend of the meeting, so hopefully I won't miss any more last-minute reset buttons on the vote. If I do...fuck it, I'll be on holidays.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled catcalls, boos, and name-calling.

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