There is a commonly held belief that all societies, no matter how balanced in human equities they are or become, will eventually begin to take an evolutionary nosedive. It happened to the Romans, the Persians and to a lesser extent, the fine residents of Melrose Place. It makes me ask the obvious question: “Where are WE, as a society, in our civic evolution?”
My absolute, knee-jerk, gut-check response to this question is always an unsettling feeling of karmic deja vu: Could we be close to etching our own archeological footnote on the cave wall? Are all the liberties we enjoy today so taken for granted that our society is about to implode, leaving only a legacy of so much promise, prosperity and the occasional M*A*S*H rerun? If the answer is YES, then I know EXACTLY the moment that the telltale sign came upon us….
It was September 30, 1991, the day The Jerry Springer Show debuted on NBC, noon Pacific Time…
Please understand that I am not anti-Springer, nor do I believe in most forms of censorship. But someone, at some time during an NBC board meeting, suggested that the Jerry Springer Show would be great if it held the noon-hour time slot. I like TV just as much as the next person, but somebody REALLY went way beyond the threshold that our fragile personal webs of ego meshed with entitlement could bear — and it’s all downhill from then on.
We have become a digitally decadent culture that has embraced a virtual class system based on what we watch on television. We are what we watch as much as you are what you eat.
All these fancy computers in the world and their seemingly inexhaustible applications are merely a diversion before the Internet and television meld completely in some unholy form of crack cocaine for our synapses.
Does the Internet drive viewers to television shows, or does the SHOW drive viewers to the ‘Net? With more people voting that the American Idol show bring back William Hung and his awesome rendition of “She Bangs” than voting in the last Federal election, what does THAT say about the current state of our society?
If you are a Master Gardener or an “Enthusiast” of any kind, be it for antiques, hot rods or celebutantes in rehab, there’s a television show out there for you. Chances are, you’re likely to be on a “Viewer Continuum” between someone who knows of the existence of such a show, all the way to the person who can’t miss an episode.
Regardless of on which end of that continuum you stand, the shows you most enjoy are things that interest you, and if the executives are doing their jobs, might even get you to watch more episodes.
If you are a gourmand, and are contacted by your favorite cooking show to be a guest or to share a recipe, what would that say about your prowess in the kitchen? If you renovate homes for a living, and you get a call to be on your favorite U-FIX-IT show, what would that say about your skills and abilities plying your trade? If you get invited to appear on The Jerry Springer Show, what does THAT say about you? Furthermore, who am I to judge?
All I know is that I’d respect a person more who would RELISH the thought of receiving such an invitation than anyone that flinches at the very thought.
If “The End” is near, people…I’ll be in the cave to ensure we have enough food, water and wireless access…
…and the M*A*S*H* reruns.
The Jerry Springer Show. Wikicommons.
Feature picture: “FUNctionality by krystalchu @ flickr. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
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