Allen Funt

Candid Camera: The creator's death serves as a reminder of how far television's standards have fallen.

September 08, 1999

"CANDID CAMERA" was a hokey show in its concept: average folks caught on film reacting to absurd, contrived predicaments.

Rocket science it wasn't, but human beings obviously love watching others doing funny things.

Viewers laughed at "victims'" reactions, but the victims often laughed heartiest themselves.

The death Sunday of Allen Funt, the 84-year-old creator of "Candid Camera," was a reminder of how far television's standards have changed -- and not for the better -- since his show's heyday in the 1960s.

Contrast the good-natured, clean fun of "Candid Camera" with the Jerry Springers and the Jenny Joneses today, where audiences chortle at the dysfunctions in the lives of people, who are sometimes moved to fistfights on stage.

No one laughs with the subjects of these shows, who are caught in a vulnerable moment. They laugh at them.

Anyone, including television executives, who questions the medium's power to help shape values, should consider the late Mr. Funt compared with some of the goons who have succeeded him on air.

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