Friday, July 24, 2009

Notes from the Culture Wars -5

One last note, this come more from pop culture than the culture wars. I guess one could argue that pop culture is the new culture anyways--although it often leaves much to be desired. This is an insightful comment:
In their new book, "The Mirror Effect," addiction medicine specialist Drew Pinsky and business professor S. Mark Young argue that following the foibles of reality TV stars and other celebrities is not a wholly harmless pastime. The more time we spend observing the shocking, materialistic and egotistical behavior of reality TV stars, they argue, the more likely we are to mimic that behavior in our own lives and view the pathological self-centeredness of these "Joe Six-Pack" celebrities as normal.

That's troubling, since most reality TV stars are anything but normal. In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, Pinsky and Young used the Narcissistic Personality Inventory to assess celebrity egoism. They found that reality TV celebrities ranked highest in narcissistic traits, surpassing even rock stars and actors.

Reality TV's celebration of egoism and exhibitionism contributes to the fame-at-any-cost mentality that afflicts many teenagers today. According to a 2005 survey by The Washington Post, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, nearly one-third of American teenagers believe they will be famous someday. In Britain, a 2006 Learning and Skills Council study found that more than one in 10 teenagers would forgo an education or training for the chance to appear on TV, and nearly one in 10 consider fame a "great way to earn money without skills or qualifications."
I guess crazy is the new normal. The headline isn't all that profound "Exploitative Reality Shows Degrade Us, Too", what is profound is how little with think about the effects of this stuff. Christians oscillate between two extremes: attraction to it and hatred of it. Sadly rallying against it, serves its purpose: they get more attention. We should start treating these things like mosquito bites: if you don't scratch them, they go away.

Don't think that low-brow culture or the increased trivializing of the already trivial television doesn't effect us. It does. It effects us even if we watch it 'so we can object'. Ever notice how recently, 'news shows' has delved more into the smut that is out there? It is as if they are running a tabloid news. No I'm not saying there aren't true professionals in the news business, indeed I wonder if the decreasing attention spans and the rise of new media isn't at least partly to blame. In media, you have to keep the customer's happy. The proliferation of gossip aggregators invariably leads more and more people satisfied with less and less facts. It is all about image and publicity. If "you are what you eat" what does this say about our diet from media?

Whether it is Heidi and Spencer or John and Kate--sadly what matters more is popularity. We not so concerned about positive image any more--any image will do, so long as I get mine out there. In a world where the individual is their own god, we want as many people as possible to worship at our altar. They don't have to like us, they just have to be captivated by us and bring in their offerings--viewership. They receive the sacrament of entertainment. Like a disgruntled Catholic--you don't have to like the Priest or the Church as long as you keep showing up for mass.

No comments:

"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...