Jessica Beagley, the mom whose "hot saucing" punishment of her son appeared on Dr. Phil, specifically taped the punishment at the show's request. What's worse — that they asked her, or that she agreed?
According to the AP, Beagley initially submitted a video of her simply talking to her kids about cold showers as punishment. But then the show asked to "see the actual discipline" — so Beagley made the tape that has caused outrage in the US and in Russia, where her adopted sons were born. Her lawyer says that she made the tape after her kid actually misbehaved, and she didn't just arbitrarily punish him for the camera, but the idea of her waiting around for an opportunity to film extreme punishment is still a little creepy. As is this detail: the videographer was her ten-year-old daughter.
There's always something unsettling about watching people treat each other badly on television — as the boundary between scripted and reality shows grows increasingly blurry, it's hard to pretend producers and viewers are just flies on the wall with no effect on what the "characters" do. Sure, maybe Beagley was "hot saucing" her kids long before she ever thought of Dr. Phil, but once the show got involved, there's the extremely uncomfortable possibility that she was doing it at least in part to get on TV. Was she more likely to discipline her son in the weeks following the show's request, knowing she needed that footage? And even if she wasn't, did she really think making a ten-year-old film her brother as he screamed and cried was an acceptable price to pay for TV coverage? Beagley's lawyer says she only wanted to get on Dr. Phil "to find solutions" — but even if that's true, it sure seems like there should've been a way for the Beagley family to solve their problems without forcing their kid to sob on national TV.
Of course, the Dr. Phil producers are far from blameless here. Show spokeswoman Stacey Luchs told the AP, "We were shocked by what we saw, and called for the immediate halting of this behavior and also referred, at the show's expense, both mother and child for evaluation and treatment with appropriate professionals." So, they told Beagley to quit hot-saucing her kid immediately — as long as she taped it for them first. Really, nobody comes off well here — and ultimately, the victim is Beagley's son, who never had a choice about whether he'd be on TV in the first place.
Russian Uproar Over Adopted Boy's Punishment In US [AP, via NYT]