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THE PIT BULL

    Once a pit bull refused to go for the throat of every other dog in the world.
    How had it descended to this appalling state of affairs, it shuddered with revulsion? It certainly didn’t bear other canines any particular malice. In a better world, the pit bull felt, it might even have found bosom friends among them.
    But not in the world of survival shows. That was made clear to it soon after it balked at filming one more episode of the hugely popular “Mutt Madness.” It needed time to reflect, the pit bull had tried to explain, on whether this was really the life it wanted to lead.
    “Of course it is,” was the response from the twenty-something new-reality whiz kid with spiky hair and a toothy smile who’d been sent out by the network to troubleshoot the dog’s refusal to go on with the show. “You can’t quit. Not with your star power. This is the perfect vehicle for you, believe me. Look at the ratings. You’re on top of the heap, so why quit now?”
    “I simply don’t see the value in any of this.”
    “Who’s talking value? It’s just a game, you know.” 
    The pit bull wasn’t particularly reassured by this reply.
    “Look at it this way,” the whiz kid went on, “we’re not dealing with Einsteins out there. We give our target demographic what market research tells us they want. And market research tells us they’re beginning to get bored with contestants acting out sham betrayals or chewing the bark off trees in front of the camera. That goes for watching disappointed contestants attempt suicide, too. Audiences demand something more this season.”
    “Like eating one’s own kind on cue?”
    “Believe me, none of us in Ultimate Brute Programming are comfortable with that. You think every last one of us doesn’t wish we could put more quality stuff on air? I’ve got a hundred absolutely knockout ideas rolling around right here inside my own head. Like a series about feuding lowlifes who get exactly what they deserve from a wisecracking studio judge. Or how about this, a baby-giveaway contest? Problem is, viewers just aren’t ready for that level of sophistication. So we have to settle for dogs eating dogs. Especially during sweeps week.”
    “But it’s all so degrading.”
    “Of course it is. That’s the beauty of it, don’t you see? Giving contestants a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a winner and then humiliating them in prime time is epic in a way. Look at it as our answer to the Classics.”
    “But what does that do for me? I can’t go on like this anymore, snapping and snarling and making this vicious spectacle of myself. And for what? What do I get out of it?”
    “How does a promo segment on ‘Lifestyles Tonight’ sound? Plus a six-figure book deal with the prestigious publishing house our parent company just bought. We’re already kicking around a few titles. My favorite so far is Down and Dirty with a Real Dog. How do you like it?”
    “I honestly need some time to think about where all this is headed.”
    “Sure thing. Take all day if you like. You can never give these things too much thought, I agree one thousand percent.”