One thing you cannot call me is a prude. I grew up in the 60’s where it was sex, drugs and rock and roll for goodness sakes. We reveled in turning on and tuning out. We dabbled on the edges, at least most of us, and a few sadly jumped off the mountain and died young.
So, don’t say, oh go back to your knitting old woman, this is the new generation. We were all the new generation at one time, and the roaring twenties had nothing kiddies to do with lions.
But even I have to come up short once in a while, and ask. . . . “Really? Haven’t you gone just a bit too far here?”
And I’m not even talking about the occasional “over the top” display of boobs, vaginas, or exploding heads with sprays of blood in every direction. I can even buy that some of this is “necessary” to convey the true horror of the event, time, or business as usual attitude.
I’m talking about the constant one-up-man-ship that seems increasingly necessary in order to capture and keep the attention of the average person.
The danger is never that one single act of viewing will so warp the mind that it will forever impact the life of the viewer. It is so much more than that. It is numbing if the mind to the point that we are becoming more and more desensitized. What used to shock no longer does.
And it happens rapidly.
Just last evening I was bemoaning once again that we have started to watch Breaking Bad when it first started and then for some reason, bailed after a couple of episodes. The Contrarian gently reminded me that the reason was “the violence”. Wow. We had stopped watching Breaking Bad for the same reason we ceased watching the Sopranos?
Yet here we were watching Hell on Wheels and Copper, and The Following. We had avoided Dexter, but were watching The Bridge which treated us to bodies sawed in half and side nudity and some good simulated sex to say nothing of the same in Copper.
We had, in a word, become desensitized.
When three young fellows decide to kill a person because “they are bored”, we have probably reached the point where reality is no longer recognized as much different from the latest edition of Grand Theft Auto.
I will be the first to admit that the jury seems still out on how much all this has to do with changing the minds of our youth. Reasonable psychologists do disagree, but it cannot be a good thing that we treat violence and the ugliness of exploding bodies a good thing. It cannot make us a kinder, gentler people. Certainly we can agree on that.
It seems to me one thing to blow up star ships even though we ignore that they are filled with hundreds of living beings, and quite another to blow off two-thirds of the face of a man as they recently did in an episode of The Bridge. The fact that it’s not “real” is hardly comforting to young minds. Hell it’s not comforting to me.
It’s now the norm in my household to avert one’s eyes, yelp in shock, and yell out, “they could have warned me!” at the gore that is de rigueur for most cable shows these days. Have you learned to turn away as the crazy person raises the gun to their own head yet? We sure have.
Now, you can argue that we are just watching lousy crap, and that may be true enough. Still, some of these shows are compelling in showing us a bad side of our own history. Hell on Wheels may be often too too graphic in its portrayal of blood and gore, but we do learn that how freed slaves were treated in the real world in the Old West, and how women used their bodies to make a living, and how everybody used and abused the Native people as needed. The were alternatively “saved” and massacred as time allowed.
Which all brings us to Miley Cyrus and her “act” at the MTV Awards the other night. First I did not watch it, but I have seen the video. Anybody who breathes has heard of it no doubt and the jury is split into “what a slut” and “who the hell cares?”
Women seem to care more than men, since it’s still true that women bear the major burden of raising children, and this shit scares them. Little girls, sadly, love these pop stars, want to dress like them and act like them. Anybody who has seen Toddlers and Tiaras, knows only too well of what I speak.
One can speculate about Ms. Cyrus’s upbringing, her mental state, and a host of other psychologically related issues regarding her and her idea of what is appropriate to do in front of cameras, but most of us would rather not have our children witness this behavior as something to emulate. Much as Ms. Cyrus may disagree, this is not the way you “prove you’ve grown up”. Rather it proves that you have a very very long way to go to reach that destination.
I’m the first to admit here that I have no answers to any of this. As you know by now, I don’t specialize in answers so much. I prefer to rant about what is wrong. You find the answer. I’m busy rooting out the problems. And this is a growing one it seems to me.
The business of simulated sex is just not necessary it seem to me. I find it impossible to almost ever conclude that it is “necessary” to a faithful honest portrayal of the character of incident. We can all figure it out without all the grunts and groans and the “yeah baby, now” crap.
The violence? That has a better argument in some cases. I do think it’s important to see the ugliness of our history. Saying that people owned slaves didn’t have much effect until Roots showed us (graphically for its time) what it was to be a slave. The same for things like Amistad. As I have said, Hell on Wheels insofar as it shows the misery of life in the West while building a railroad, gives us a new appreciation for those that built this country. Not the Rockefellers and Carnegies, but the average people who lived out short mean lives doing the business of building.
But where to draw the line? Oh gosh, I don’t know where to begin to set the standards. And perhaps that is the reason we have so little in the way of standards. Where is free speech, art, and individual freedom in all this? All I know is that we have gone too far it seems to me.
- Not Just a Whorehouse: Female Representation in Hell On Wheels (rookerville.com)
- Miley Cyrus: White Trash Never Looked This Bad (thoughtcatalog.com)
- Breaking Bad is brilliant (catherinecrilly.wordpress.com)
- Breaking Bad Contest: The First Three to Die? (thomaspluck.com)
- Top 10 most bad ass TV characters (angelomedici.com)