08 April 2015

Is it just me?

Have you noticed the sneaky, casually mean spirited attitudes inundating our TV and social programming? It's everywhere, even in commercials. Take for example, the new gelato commercial from that well known ice cream brand: in this commercial, two adults are eating gelato in a darkened kitchen when their young son enters and turns on the light; this child’s parents lie to him… they deny him even a taste of this new treat so they can keep it selfishly and greedily to themselves. Then, there’s that popular brand “N” breakfast biscuit that has a series of commercials and ads making this glorified cookie some kind of reward for mean spirited and/or downright dishonest behavior.
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Are they saying that it’s okay to be selfish, mean and greedy? Do we want our children to learn from these examples? Perhaps the message is that other people don’t matter in the face of our own desires or convenience. I find these cringe-inducing commercials anti-social especially when my young son is watching with me. I exercise my power to choose when I pick up the remote and switch to the Weather Channel or the cable-access bulletin board channel, or close a webpage.

I believe the commercial examples are only a symptom of a deeper issue. Our news has become entertainment. Scandal and poor life choices, salacious stupidity and mean spirited condescension have become the mainstays of entertainment. Media and entertainment groups seem to operate on the premise that we, the viewers, want to see only the basest of Human experiences. As viewers we obviously haven’t done enough to discourage such brain-rot. When someone voices anything less than full support and enjoyment of the brain-rot, they can expect to be attacked at every turn by vociferous, brain-rotted fans. I fully expect such attacks on this very blog post.

It seems this mean spiritedness is everywhere. Maybe it’s because of Reality TV. Maybe Reality TV is just another symptom. It certainly seems that genre is all about rewarding mean spiritedness. The winners of that island/wilderness show are never the nicest, most supportive contestants. And, does anyone remember when the Discovery Channel used to be about real science? I quit watching that channel because all I could ever find on it was some kind of reality show — like the purported custom motorcycle building show; it was more about the dysfunctional, often abusive relationship between the motorcycle artists (yes, I fully recognize the magnificent artistry of the bikes they produce). I don’t care about motorcycles; but, I would probably have watched the show occasionally to see the how’s of custom bike design (the same reasons we like shows about how everyday things are made, and the show that debunks or confirms myths and legends in popular culture). 

Maybe it’s the politics of the day. From around the world, we certainly don’t lack examples of political corruption and infighting. Political contention is the order of the day. Long ago, in a time now apocryphal, we had statesmen who became leaders to serve the public need. Now… (pause to shudder) we have POLITICIANS.

If you gage Humanity by the politics and media and entertainment and advertising industries, we are a base, corrupt species. If extraterrestrial aliens did come to this world, I think they might decide we are an irredeemable race based on our entertainments and news. Who knows, maybe they’ve already been here and left. Maybe Roswell was the aliens bugging out. 

Yet, uplifting entertainments and news of hope is something I have to believe most people want to see. We’ve seen multiple examples even on the big screen very recently. There’s a reason that the Bible is still the best selling, most distributed book in the world. There’s a reason we all love a happy ending and want to see the downtrodden win the day. 

So… Why are our media and entertainment and advertising companies pushing this socially and morally bankrupt vision? Why aren’t we using our power of choice to demand better programming? Why aren’t we educating ourselves to use our vote to elect statesmen? Why are we letting this tiny segment of the population tell us all that we want to revel in their mean spiritedness? 

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