When Fear Really Was a Factor
Have you ever seen the television show Fear Factor? It is an American reality show that involves stunts and dares, and it ran from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2011 to 2012. The show features contestants who compete with one another to do frightening stunts and to do things that most people would consider gross, such as eating worms. It was hosted by comedian, UFC commentator, and podcaster Joe Rogan, and it was popular for a number of years. However, it seems to have caused at least one viewer a bit more trouble and mental anguish than it did others.
Suing The TV Show Because It Went Too Far
For Austin Aitken, a 49-year-old paralegal from Cleveland, Ohio the “fear was a factor”. He claims that he’d watched other episodes of the television show before and that they did not have an effect on him. He said that it did not bother him when he watched others eat insects and worms. However, when people were required to ingest blended rats, it was too much for him. He claims that it caused his blood pressure to go up, and that he felt dizzy and lightheaded.
How The Show “Caused” A Viewer To Sustain Damages
Instead of changing the channel, he got up and ran from the room. The elevated blood pressure supposedly made him disoriented enough that when he ran from the room he hit a doorway and caused serious injury to himself. Due to the injuries and the mental anguish he suffered, he decided to sue NBC for airing the episode. He sued for $2.5 million.
What Did the Court Decide?
Given the way that many lawsuits pan out, it’s often impossible to know exactly what will happen when a suit comes to court. In this case, it seems as though the judge saw the light of reason. The judge, U.S. District Court Judge Lesley Wells, threw the lawsuit out based on First Amendment protection. Also, keep in mind that the show always had warnings when it aired that some of the material would not be right for everyone. As with all television shows, books, and music, people need to use their discretion when choosing their form of entertainment.
Aitken said that the reason he sued in the first place was to send a message to NBC and other networks about the programming they aired. While this case may not have cost NBC anything, they did later pull one of the stunts from the show during the second run from 2011 to 2012 because of the subject matter.
People Sue Television Shows More Often than You Might Think
Here’s a recent example. A man named Ron Newt, who claims to be a friend of Michael Jackson’s family, is suing the television show Empire because he believes it is a copy of the documentary made about his life when he was a gangster, pimp, and drug dealer. He even claims that he met with Terrence Howard to discuss his documentary Bigger than Big. He says that Howard wanted to play him in a movie. Then, Empire was made and Newt was not credited. It will be interesting to see how this one will play out. Alas, it may be a Wacky Wednesday down the road.
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