Money's not all there is to it - Denny Scott editorial
My wife Ashleigh really enjoys certain kinds of “reality” television (and reality is definitely in quotations intentionally) but her recent favourite has been tattoo shows, specifically Ink Master.
The show’s premise is that a number of tattoo artists (usually around 18) are either selected or, through the first episode, earn
their way into a building where they will live with each other, work alongside each other and, in the end, try to eliminate each other.
The goal is to be one of the three artists to make it to the last, live episode of the season. One of those three are then crowned
“Ink Master”, earning them $100,000 and a story written about them in an industry magazine.
While doing some research about the show for this very column, I couldn’t find out how long it takes them to film a season, or how long the people who make it to the end live and work together with the same people. I did find out that the inter-artist drama is manufactured (big surprise there) and a lot of the nail-biting moments like the six-hour deadlines for tattoos aren’t really that nail-biting in reality. What I didn’t learn, however, is how long a successful candidate may be away from their family.
The show is filmed ahead of time, which is obvious as the last challenge for the final three contestants is usually a huge tattoo that is crafted over multiple sessions and 35 hours, but that last episode typically airs a week after the previous one. From the looks of the show, it must only be a matter of weeks, at most, and could be a matter of just over two weeks.
The reason that I was looking it up, and the reason for this column, is to wonder what kind of parent would leave their children behind, their job behind and ask someone else to take care of their family (be it a spouse or, in the case of single parents, a friend or family member) for a one-in-18 (at best) chance to win $100,000.
Like many other reality shows, Ink Master features numerous moments where the artists break down and turn to each other for support, or break down and turn on each other. Often, during those breakdowns, people bemoan the time they’ve spent away from their children and their family and how they really need that $100,000 prize to turn their family’s fortune for the better.
Without fail, every time, I think to myself, if you really wanted to turn your family’s fortune around, you should have stayed
home, worked hard and spent time with your children instead of aiming for a get-rich-quick scheme.
If you’ll look a few inches to the right of these words, you’ll see a column my editor Shawn penned about having a child during
the pandemic. In it, he says that, through all the difficulty, he has learned to cherish the time he, his wife and his daughter have spent together when seeing other people proved to be unsafe or difficult. He’s learning truths I’ve known for a few years
(and I’m not trying to claim to be some expert here, just someone who has gone through the same thing). He’s realizing there is no way to know exactly how great it feels to just cuddle your infant. Soon he’ll learn how amazing it feels to just sit with his daughter
on the couch and watch television or, one of my favourite memories, have his daughter climb up on him and fall asleep on him
while relaxing on some lazy Sunday afternoon.
Who would trade all that for a chance at some cash? Keep in mind here, I’m not talking about people who have to go away from their family and their children to make ends meet. I’m talking about someone who is willing to lose time at home and put their family behind their ambitions to possibly win some money, and the odds aren’t in their favour. You could argue that the artists on the show are gaining exposure by being there, but after watching it, there are more artists on the show I’d avoid than ones I’d pay to ink my skin, and my wife, who sports a number of “tats”, agrees.
I wouldn’t trade those lazy Sunday afternoons, or those Saturdays building rockets out of cardboard boxes for a chance to win any amount of money, but, as I’ve told people before, I’ve never really followed the “Cash is King” rule from Storage Wars, another “reality” show my wife enjoyed. (Granted, if someone said I’d be handed $100,000 for spending two weeks away from my family, no chances, no ifs, that might be a different discussion).
We have a roof over our heads, food in our fridge and enough money to have fun as a family. If we didn’t, then I’d find another job, not leave everything behind for a chance at a Band-Aid sum of money (after all, $100,000 seems like a lot, but for the average Canadian, that’s two years’ worth of wages).
It takes all kinds to make the world go round, I guess, but I don’t think leaving your children and family behind for a five per cent chance to win money and embarrass yourself on television is a worthwhile endeavour.