Thursday, April 17, 2008

life in a media circus

I've been traveling lately, and in various hotels and friends guest rooms, have seen more TV than usual. This sojourn away from my usual ignorance of broadcast television has provided the following dubious delights:

• Fox's "Moment of Truth" game show, which really does turn real life into a game, and has apparently bribed at least one marriage into oblivion through paying for public confessions of adultery. (I expect the show's producers might try to tell us that the show teaches something else about personal responsibility, or that's all in good fun, or that the contestants are there by their own informed volition; or we may even discover that the show has been lying to us and faking it. But here's the real moment of truth: when the host says, "some of these questions are way over my line," and yet still asks them, has he himself not become the definition of insanity?)

• CNN rampantly advertising Larry King's exclusive interview with Jesse Ventura as if his non-campaign for the presidency was almost as important as Jessica Simpson's non-engagement and non-pregnancy.

• Various entertainment clip shows dedicated to matters such as Robin Williams' divorce, and the Tom Cruise birthday party video.

• And in the past week, major news networks hysterically talking as if the sad events surrounding a Texas polygamous sect are just waiting to happen to your children; and the ridiculous and over-the-top response to Senator Obama's attempt at explaining an utterly uncontroversial reality: that being economically disenfranchised can make you feel entrenched. This is amusingly accompanied by the absurd suggestion that there has ever been a U.S. President who did not somehow arrive in the White House linked to the economic 'elite'.

Most of us would like to believe that we have come a long way since the Roman circus – where human beings killed people for our entertainment - or even the Victorian circus - where we only abused the disabled and disadvantaged. Today's circus may look like it only mocks the powerful – with the fabulously wealthy being humiliated as they emerge drunk and bloodied from a nightclub, or photographed while getting an embarrassing haircut. But I think we're kidding ourselves if we think people are not harmed by the pornography of social humiliation offered up 24/7. Amy Winehouse's visible bruises and alleged substance abuse problem, and Britney Spears' obvious mental illness are not legitimate fodder for our entertainment, no matter how economically powerful these two women may be.

To read the rest of this post on the God's Politics blog, click here.


Alastair said...

Gareth, thanks for such excellent and thought provoking reflections! I could say that for all your posts...

Have just linked to you on my blog, am just starting a 'faith and film' series in my fellowships! Thanks again

redhead57 said...

In an event I call syncronicity I hit the wrong button and happened upon your post at Beliefnet. I could find no other way to respond to you but to read your posts here. I find this entry to be as insightful as the one on Bush at Bnet.

The things you said in that post on the "appeaser" comment were brilliant. I am always pleased to know the rest of the world can see through the nonsense that goes on in American politics. As a descendant of the Irish isle, I am not the least bit surprised that the homeland of my ancestors is still leading the way in showing the rest of us how to relate to life here on the Earth. Bravo to the peaceful resolution of hundreds of years of bloodshed. If you have a more appropriate place for me to respond to that blog please let me know on my own blog. thank you for your thoughts and efforts.

Lewis Cash said...

I had no idea what you were talking about in the first example... that is until last night. I happened to be flipping the channels and stumbled upon that show. I watched for about 7 minutes in utter disbelief. All I can say is wow.