Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Harbingers of Cultural Decline

I've seen a lot of posts in recent months about the popularity of the show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" being an indication of serious cultural decline.  It always bugs me a little bit.

I've never seen the show.  As a rule, I don't generally enjoy watching people embarrass themselves (whether they realize it or not) as a form of entertainment.  But I think its silly that somehow this is the bottom of the barrel, end-of-times sign in so many people's minds.  Americans have always loved laughing at hillbillies.  They were one of Mark Twain's favorite targets, for Pete's sake.  And its not just Americans:  for about as long as civilization has existed, people have enjoyed mocking or mimicking the antics of the uneducated and/or less bright segments of society.  Human pride is such that most of us, in at least some part of ourselves, love laughing at people that we don't think are as smart or as refined as we are.

More bothersome to me, though, is that there are some truly disturbing harbingers of cultural decline on television and movies and very few people seem to be upset or disturbed by them--the popularity of truly destructive nonsense doesn't cause many to bat an eye, but they're all doom and gloom about a family that is, by all accounts, kind, friendly, and loving, albeit unrefined.

Why aren't we hearing an uproar about what "Bridalplasty" says about where we are as a culture--women happily undergoing tremendous pain and expense to mutilate themselves, erase much of their unique identity, in pursuit of some largely arbitrary definition of "perfection"?  Why isn't Jersey Shore disturbing?  In every day life, stupid, drunken debauchery annoys me at best and infuriates me at worst, but millions of people pay to watch a bunch of young adults get drunk and sleep around in between doing laundry, rather than take any serious responsibility for growing up and moving forward in life.  Or--dare I say it--The Bachelor? A show that reduces courtship and marriage to an exhibitionist game show competition remains popular year after year, and we wonder why marriages are struggling in our culture?  G.K. Chesterton wrote many years ago that, "The obvious result of frivolous divorce will be frivolous marriage".  How right he was.

So forgive me if I don't shrink away in disgust at Honey Boo Boo's noodle-and-ketchup "sketti".  We've got much bigger problems.


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Kaytee Postma said...

I have never seen Honey Boo Boo before but it seems sad they are so popular when all they do is make a total fool of themselves. I miss the good ol' days of the family centered sitcom where mom and dad ruled and all the kids either did what they said or they got their butts reamed! Now it's full of all these terrible reality shows that show us the world has become "worse than Soddum and Gamora" (or California as Josh just pointed out) as Pres. Hinckley said (and that was 5 years ago! Imagine what he'd think if he saw the world today)

Kaytee Postma said...

BTW I have no idea how to spell Soddum and Gamora