Oct. 11, 2008 at 3:50pm
In my community I see just the opposite.
From the limited vantage point of my insignificant little life here in my insignificant little piece of the planet I see people all around me who are creative, adventurous, opinionated, innovative and intelligent. But what do I know? I’m not the powers that be, the all seeing eye, big brother or those marketing guru’s who watch and take note of everything we say, watch, listen to, buy and vote for. Those people tell us that the majority of Americans (the largest market share) are fascinated by all things low-brow, juvenile, uncomplicated and, in a word, stupid. They tell us what they think of is by the projects they choose to bankroll. They media blitz us to the tune of billions of dollars with mediocre, formulaic entertainment and they tell us that we should like it because everyone else does.
I first suspected something was amiss when the Billboard Top 10 best songs lists repeatedly contained songs that no-one I know would ever like. As a music writer I find myself talking to all sorts of people on the subject so I felt like my test-market was a pretty good cross section of ages and types. Who are these people who prefer these ridiculous songs? I can’t find them.
Then I noticed that a lot of cleverly written television shows were being canceled and replaced with barely passable sitcoms and reality shows and that blockbuster movies with great actors have plot lines that seemed to be written at an 8th grade reading level. So many times I would see the trailer for something and be really excited to see it only to be totally disappointed by the full length film. Don’t even get me started on reality shows and shows like Jerry Springer and the Tyra Banks show.
It’s not just the “dumbing down of America” effect that worries me, it’s also the numbing down of our standards of decency. Why must I listen to songs about some guy being horny when I’m driving in the car with my daughter? Why is it hilarious when someone on a sitcom lies, cheats or even assaults someone? Why is it charming when cute little Carrie Underwood sings about vandalizing a car? Why is violence portrayed as sexy in movies? It never really bothered me until I stopped to think about what was becoming normal. And we wonder why other countries roll their eyes when they talk about Americans. If all they know about us is what they see while watching shows like “My Name is Earl” and “I Love New York” I don’t blame them.
We have this reputation of being selfish, deceitful, manipulative, vulgar, violent, materialistic and really uninformed in general and this is not how I see the people around me.
As consumers, are we voting for these values with our attention and our buying power? Is it true that all the wrong people are procreating and as a species we are getting dumb and dumber?
Is it all just a big conspiracy to distract us and lower our values so that we won’t get educated, informed and active in the democratic process?
Do you think our parents and grandparents were more intelligent, informed and had better values than our generation?
comments  | posted under America, pop culture, stupidity, TacomaComments
by chrism39 on 10/11/2008 @ 9:23pm
|Yes and yes read Republican by Defaults blog and you will get quite dose of selfish and stupid.|
by Carlos on 10/11/2008 @ 11:35pm
|So well said Angela. Even though it scares me sleepless to say it, I believe that as a country (as a whole - and I mean the whole stupid lot) we deserve another 4 years of Bushville. When I watch the pro Obama videos (like on dipdive.com) calling for Change, and claiming that We Can Do It - I am touched by the desperation. I want to believe, too! I guess I am a political agnostic - show a well meaning politician that will actually put the populace before the corps and I will bow down and give praise!|
by dawntown on 10/12/2008 @ 9:37am
|Thank you for your analysis of our media controlled country (as a whole). |
It is culturally frightening to see how big of a percentage of our country's energy, resources, and money goes into the "entertainment" industry- Sports, movies, television, music, etc. and the level they rise to to call themselves entertainment.
To put this dilemma in a perspective, imagine our country as a teenage boy. This is where our maturity level hovers as a culture and society, compared to others that have been around for thousands of years. This may reflect where we set our priorities, too. So it is obvious to say, you and I and others who agree with you, that we are bumping up against a bar that is set for your "average American".
We have matured faster than our classmates. The product of above average intelligence, upbringing, and maturity has forced us to feel like that odd kid, sitting in the back of class, never fitting in, and watching the vulgarities of socialization happen before him...all in public school.
At some point, we will realize that this world is so much bigger than ourselves and we don't know it all. But we still have much growing to do. So until then,
IGNORANCE IS BLISS
by fredo on 10/12/2008 @ 10:01am
|You may not find this comforting, but the vulgar and vapid entertainment scene you describe Americans as wallowing in, is actually more international in scope. The same thing is going on in other countries I have visited. I would note that most of this "fare" has a distinctly western flavor and seems to have been exported from the US. I don't have a clue how to address the problem, but if I were asked to site one factor leading to social breakdown it would have to be the rise of the single-parent family model. Good posting Angie, you've given us all something to think about.|
by Mofo from the Hood on 10/12/2008 @ 11:25am
|Well yeah, if most people were a king or queen then the foundation of their politics would be obedience and distraction. Order imposed by force or by propaganda. How else could one keep rebels in line?
And yes, our forefathers, including the framers of The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were much more aware of the wickedness of mankind than most people today. Anyone care to guess the basis of the view that mankind is wicked?
Clue: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Nowadays, the rights that some people seek are beyond the extreme noted above. How so? Once you take away the restraining powers of the Creator, then anything is possible.
You better believe it right now: A whole lotta people think that their mind is greater than the mind the Creator, of God. And many of those people today are behind the chaos that surrounds us in our everyday life.
by dawntown on 10/12/2008 @ 12:46pm
|Im almost positive, Mofo, you were not pointing that towards me?
Happiness yes, but at what cost?
Oh ya, for the greater good of society, duh.
Ignorance is bliss, mmmmm
by AngelaJossy on 10/12/2008 @ 1:48pm
|I've never bought into the idea that man (and by man I mean all mankind) is inherently wicked. I think each person has a choice and he or she will choose based on testing the waters to see the outcome.
If by behaving wicked, he gets something he wanted (for example chicks dig him or he gets a lot of money or maybe just a feeling of power) then he will continue to behave wickedly. If wicked behavior is deemed charming by his peers then the behavior is reinforced even more. "Dude, that was so awesome how you totally beat that guy down!"
On the other hand, if he does a great and charitable thing and he receives lots of praise and respect he may realize he likes being a hero instead.
I don't think man is either inherently good or bad. I think we have a choice.
So what do you think happens when bad behavior is glamorized on TV, music, movies, etc.?
by Mofo from the Hood on 10/12/2008 @ 1:57pm
|dawntown, I read your comments today and like others of yours that I've read before, you usually make me laugh (with you, not at you) or I think that you offer an interesting viewpoint.
I think AngelaJossy was making an observation that the popular media is using its power to suppress or maybe marginalize a sector of population; in effect offering a hungry population garbage where nourishment is needed.
As for the greater good of society that you mention, I think that self-preservation is the most powerful drive within man (man, as in human). People are selfish, and I think born that way. And isn't it true that young children love the word "mine" and also that young children lie, for instance after they are questioned about a missing cookie from the cookie jar ? Many such children are raised without the benefit of the rod (yes, I know that is politically incorrect) and many such children are raised without the benefit of parents to teach them discernment. So to me, it isn't surprising that today we're surrounded by an increasingly accepted absurdity.
by Mofo from the Hood on 10/12/2008 @ 2:19pm
|AngelaJossy, you don't think that man is inherently wicked? If you knew my thoughts, the secrets in my heart, you would not have anything to do with me. Likewise, if I knew your thoughts, the secrets in your heart, I would not have anything to do with you.
Me or you, we can't help ourselves. When we want to do good, we often do bad things. We like our sin. And I use that word sin because that is a key concept that the media has consciously set out to eliminate from public discourse.
The devils in the media certainly understand that man is inherently wicked, and they exploit us and will continue to exploit us as long as it is profitable.
by AngelaJossy on 10/12/2008 @ 2:45pm
|Mofo, though I adore you, bad thoughts and all, I have to say that your logic here has a few flaws.
Likewise, if I knew your thoughts, the secrets in your heart, I would not have anything to do with you.
You can't possibly know that. I think we all tend to think that others think like we do. The good people see the good in others and the bad people are suspicious of them.
by Mofo from the Hood on 10/12/2008 @ 4:41pm
|Okay AngelaJossy, you've stated that you don't think that people are inherently wicked. Since me and you are people, we are not inherently wicked.
In fact, that's the position of contemporary psychology. We're not wicked, we're good. That position is the inverse of the Christian concept of man. So, in other words, if man is not wicked, if man is not a sinner, then man does not need a savior.
Okay, now if that is true, if man does not need a savior because man is inherently good, then man does not need the moral laws of the Bible which clearly explain how wicked man is.
If man is inherently good, man does not need the Bible, man does not need the moral law giver of the Bible; man does not need God.
Okay: No God. No need for His word the Bible to show man how wicked he is. So, now we have arrived at today's secular humanist (man is the measure of all things) viewpoint, which you stated.
How do you know the difference between good and evil?
If you say that you are good and I say that you (we) are wicked, then it's just your word against mine.
Likewise, you can make an observation of the media, but if there are no transcendent principles of good and evil such as those offered by the Bible, then the media can promote whatever it chooses. There is no basis for judgement.
Even if we all voted to pass a law to prohibit the media, their action would still not be morally wrong. Their action would remain inherently good (No God, No Morals) So, logically there is no reason to ever prohiblit the media, or any form of perversion the mind of man can imagine.
I know that I'm inherently wicked and so is everybody else. You may not agree with my source of knowledge, the Bible, but that doesn't change the facts of what man is.
But more importantly, as I gathered from some of your many writings, you were blessed with the gift of musical talent. You have the ability to influence people not only with lyrics but with the mystery of song rythym and harmony. Your gift of musical talent must be directing others to some point, right? I don't believe that your gift was pointless.
by TacomaGnome on 10/12/2008 @ 5:44pm
|Fascinating Ms Jossy.
I too, have been an observer of the tendency of your culture to tend towards the titillating and extremes of entertainment, it even creeps into your so-called 'news'.
I believe people are, as are gnomes, not inherently evil, we are each born good, and given the proper circumstance, proper care and proper enlightenment through craft or study, we can foster our better character.
All our community in Oslo subscribes to the following credo:
More schools, less jails.
More books, less arsenals,
More learning and less vice.
More leisure and less greed.
More justice and less revenge.
In actuality, we all strive within our communities to have more opportunities to cultivate our better nature.
Until next time,
by Mofo from the Hood on 10/12/2008 @ 6:01pm
|Tacoma Gnome... THE Tacoma Gnome? Seems I remember bringing up your name a few months back. There was a discussion on E133 about converting the 9th & Commerce corner store to a new venue. I suggested you as one of the highlights of the Rocket Market Grand Opening: Ring Toss on the Tacoma Gnome.|
by AngelaJossy on 10/12/2008 @ 6:55pm
|Mofo: I think you misunderstood me. I never said man was inherently good. I said we each have a choice.
Mr. Gnome: Thank you for sharing your credo. I think we should all adopt it immediately.
by TacomaGnome on 10/12/2008 @ 9:19pm
|Mr. the Hood,|
I believe in your analysis you miss a big part of the understanding of your Christianity. You leave out Grace.
People are undeserving of grace, but it is given to people because that is just how expansive and understanding God is.
Read up on Martin Luther, he brought this understanding into the Catholic church in the 1500s, was rebuked as it was felt people were inherently wicked and needed to pay indulgences to get tickets out of purgatory and otherwhatnots.
I had an uncle who traveled to Germany at the time, we gnomes watched with mild disgust at the authority the church and the lack of love and understanding.
Had I known about the ring toss, that would have been an excellent time.
Until Next Time,
by Mofo from the Hood on 10/12/2008 @ 11:27pm
|Thank you TacomaGnome.
I did allude to the concept of Grace in my comment @2:19, paragraph 2. The first two sentences are a paraphrase from Romans 7: 18-19. "For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do."
What Paul writes about in Romans is that he along with all men after Adam, all of us, are born sinners. Paul goes on to explain that men are unable to reconcile themselves to God and achieve eternal life by performing works or offering sacrifices, which would include your reference to the centuries later Catholic Church indulgences.
Martin Luther upon reading Romans came to the conclusion that salvation is of the Lord. We only need one mediator, Jesus Christ. The atonement for our sin's was achieved by Christ's work on the Cross. The challenge to men is to believe, have faith in Christ alone for salvation. No one achieves eternal life without belief.
Catholicism or Catholic Christianity is to me, as it was to Luther, unnecessarily complex. I personally find that the study of the Bible far more satisfying. And I have put forth my views in differing degrees many times on FeedTacoma.com and Exit133.com and 5views.com.
The Bible, the mind of God, is very relevant to today's concerns as a filter for reality, and I attempted to show that in response to AngelaJossy's observations.
by AngelaJossy on 10/13/2008 @ 12:52am
|I really appreciate everyone's insights on the issue but I never wanted this to become a discussion of a religious nature. Not that religious discussions don't have their place. Its just that in my experience religious beliefs tend to divide people and that's not a party I wish to attend. |
This discussion is about entertainment and whether or not art reflects life or life reflects art. Is the tail wagging the dog?
Have you ever read the comments people leave on blogs announcing that a show has been canceled? People on those things are always lamenting that the smart shows get the ax and the dumb ones (or the ones about crime or funny deceitful people) stick around.
It just makes you wonder why.
by Mofo from the Hood on 10/13/2008 @ 1:06am
|I'm still bummed-out about the cancellation of the 1960's T.V. show "Time Tunnel."|
by TacomaGnome on 10/13/2008 @ 9:40am
|Mr. the Hood,
I was disappointed at the cancellation of David the Gnome.