In June, I wrote an article called “Does MTV Provide Condoms for Reality Show Castmates“? I’m still curious as to the answer, but I’m not sure what else to do towards discovering the truth. Ultimately I would like some answers straight from MTV, but I don’t think I’m high enough on the blogging food chain for that! I have come across some new information, though, that has me even more intrigued…
Earlier this week, the Village Voice posted an article titled “We Have Obtained a Copy of MTV’s Standard Real World Cast-Mate Contract“. They posted the entire 30 page monstrosity, which, not surprisingly, basically asks participants to sign away every right they have. After reading the contract, and pondering the general nature of MTV, reality shows, advertising dollars, etc, I’m considering a disturbing conclusion: MTV wants participants to have unsafe sex. Or at least doesn’t mind, because it benefits their ratings.
As I write this I’m astounded by how naive it sounds to presume that they wouldn’t want the drama, and how conspiracy theorist it sounds to presume that they are hoping the cast members suffer the consequences of unprotected sex. I thought perhaps the reason was that MTV didn’t want to be liable for the efficacy of condoms that they provided, but details in the contract specifically eliminate that concern. So at this point it seems like…
Pregnancy scares are good for sucking in more viewers! STD symptoms make for great teaser previews of next week’s episode! The emotional ramifications of any cast member suffering the consequences of unsafe sex is generally dramatic, and therefore great television, hooray!
I’m not even arguing with all that – it is dramatic, intriguing television. But I promise it can still happen even if you provide them with condoms and encourage them to use protection. Condoms aren’t 100% effective, and people (especially drunk people) don’t always use them 100% correctly. Hell, at this point I would just be happy to see a Trojan commercial between breaks. If you can have castmates just “happen” to crave delicious Subway sandwiches, they can also “happen” to crave a ribbed for her pleasure before hopping into bed. Plus it’s not like these are emotional condoms, acting as a barrier to prevent promiscuity, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and embarrassment. All of those things (the basic tenets of reality TV, perhaps?) are still available in abundance!
Click “read more” at right to see direct quotes from the contract, and images of the actual document…
(Highlighted portions were there when originally posted by the Village Voice)
I’m thinking that in society today, condom use is one of those “generally accepted social practices” that we hope people maintain. If you gave them condoms, or encouraged condom usage on the show, that might help. Also, it might be easier for them to conduct themselves “with care, good judgement, and discretion that an aware and reasonable person would ordinarily exercise in similar situations” if you provided condoms. Or encouraged the use of them. Plus I heard that there are these cool, new-fangled contraptions that help to prevent pregnancy and STDs. They’re called condoms, ever heard of them? You could even offer them to cast members, and encourage their use, with no legal risk if they aren’t 100% effective. Plus, I bet there are some companies who would pay real cash money for product placement and advertising on your network! So what’s up with that MTV – and what would Pedro have to say about all of this?
Here are the relevant quotes that I found interesting:
I further understand and acknowledge that Producer cannot control and is not responsible for, the events, which transpire, or allegedly transpire, during any transaction between myself and other participants or any other person on the Program. I agree to maintain my behavior and any interaction between myself and other participants or any other person on the Program in accordance with all applicable laws and generally accepted social practices. (page 5)
I understand there are risks in any such interaction, including but not limited to, the possibility of consensual and non-consensual physical contact, which could result in could result in (sic) my contracting any type of sexually transmitted disease, including, without limitation, HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), Chlamydia, scabies (crabs), hepatitis, genital warts, and other communicable and sexually transmitted diseases or Pregnancy, etc. Participant further understands and acknowledges that neither Producer nor any other party has represented to Participant that any other participant is or will be free of HIV, herpes, hepatitis or any other sexually transmitted disease. I expressly agree and affirm to Producer that I will conduct myself with care, good judgement, and discretion that an aware and reasonable person would ordinarily exercise in similar situations. The waivers, releases, and indemnities in this Agreement and any other agreement that I may execute in connection with the Series expressly apply to any contraction by me of any sexually transmitted disease or any other disease in connection with my participation in the Series. (page 5)
I represent and warrant that I am in excellent mental and physical health. Without in any way limiting the foregoing, I represent and warrant that, to the best of my knowledge, I do not currently have any sexually transmitted disease. However, I acknowledge and agree that other participants in the Program may have one more sexually transmitted diseases and any other disease. I acknowledge and agree that if I choose to engage in sexual activity with any of the other participants in the Program, or anyone else, at any time whatsoever, I do so at my own risk. (page 12)
I represent and warrant that I am not currently pregnant as of my signature of this Agreement, and I agree that I shall not become pregnant prior to completion of my participation in the taping of the Program. In the event I find out that I am pregnant any time after signing this Agreement or during my participation in the Program, I hereby agree to disclose said condition to Producer immediately. In the event I do become pregnant during the Program, Producer shall have the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to terminate me from further participation in the Program. (page 17)
I understand that Producer, directly and/or through independent contractors, may provide various services and equipment in connection with the Program and its participants. These services and equipment may include, but are not limited to, preparation for the Program; transportation to, from and about the sites of the Program (whether via helicopter, commercial airliner, private aircraft, train, boat, ground transportation or otherwise); provision of food and/or water; furnishing equipment; the supervision of certain other activities; emergency and rescue equipment and services; and medical and first aid services. I acknowledge and agree that any medical procedures, if any, offered to me in connection with my participation in the Program may involve calculated risks of complications, infection, disfigurement, injury or even death, from both known and unknown causes, and no warranty or guarantee has been made as to the result of such procedure, and I assume all risks with respect thereto. (page 4)
I acknowledge that neither Producer nor any contractor or employee providing equipment or services in connection with the Program has made any warranties whatsoever in respect to the equipment or services furnished by them in connection with the Program or otherwise used by any participants, and that there are no warranties of any kind from anyone regarding the equipment’s fitness or services or suitability for use for any purpose in connection with the Program. I hereby waive any right I might otherwise have to warnings or instructions regarding any aspect of the Program or the equipment or services utilized in connection therewith. (page 4)
Thanks to theFrisky and Jezebel for directing me to the contract and Village Voice by way of their articles, “What’s Inside An MTV ‘Real World’ Cast Member Contract: Humiliation, STDs, And Possible Crazy People” and “Real World Contracts Stipulate That You Could Die And MTV’s Not To Blame“!