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As we read this morning about Scottish singer Susan Boyle being hospitalized under the UK's Mental Health Act for what is being described as "emotional and mental exhaustion," I am reminded of questions I once asked about the ethics and morality of reality TV.

Back in 2000 as the genre started to get prime-time traction, I wondered about the people who signed up to be on reality TV without really understanding the way that TV cameras and instant celebrity can knock you off center -- if not shred your life. Like many critics, I have stopped asking in recent years for a variety of reasons.

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But between Boyle's troubles and the sorry spectacle of Jon and Kate Gosselin and the crackup of their marriage before the eyes of their eight kids and the nation, I am thinking maybe we should be asking if we who watch bear any guilt for what's happening on screen.

I know there isn't much sympathy from viewers. Many of us want fame and money, and are sure we would handle it well -- or at least much better than Jon and Kate -- if it came our way. And you always have to sign on the dotted line to be on camera.

But still, seeing Boyle hit this wall right after the producers of the talent show got every ratings point out of her that they could, certainly drives me back to all the questions I had about reality TV and the lives it enters, disrupts and sometimes seems to destroy.

I know I'll be thinking about that tonight as I watch Jon & Kate Plus 8.

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