The other evening I sat with our new AppleTV control in hand, ready and having time to finally figure out what’s going on in the world of current television. Mind you, although I admit I’m a complete junkie when it comes to old comedy classics like Seinfeld and Frasier, and enjoy the well written drama of Donofrio’s Bobby of Law and Order’s Criminal Intent, I was hesitant to put my toes into the new waters of what’s really happening via contemporary small screen entertainment.
Once upon a time I’d lived on a Third World jungle island in the Caribbean where at the time, the seventies, no one but well-off merchants could afford a TV set. During the three years I roughed it in Dominica, when I was operating a fruit shipping business starting from down- to up-island — I virtually had no contact with Stateside news or current themes in my home country’s culture.
When I returned to the States that time, after years of no contact with any media whatsoever, I went into a mild shock. During my absence BIG things had happened. Watergate, for instance. Some other good things, along with some bad. But the huge leap in our collective consciousness caused my pure little psyche BIG problems. It took me a while to adjust, let’s just say, to the way things were. If I had known about trends and changes as events unfolded, perhaps I could have adjusted more easily. Who knows? But I felt such duress acclimating to the big social changes that happened during my absence that I promised myself, from that time forward, I would always “keep a pulse” on what was happening in the world. Right at the time it was happening, I mean. But not too much, just enough awareness of world events so that I wouldn’t go into shock that severely again simply because I hadn’t allowed myself to be aware of how deeply disturbing our culture can be. The violence. The wantonness. The lack of love and compassion. At least I could protect my own heart from future let-downs, at least that.
After viewing a few shows I’d heard many “raves” about (mostly from critics in the New York Times and the New Yorker, both of which I avidly read) I’m here to report my even greater shock at the overwhelming degree of degeneration I felt hitting, blasting away at our culture’s collective heart from what I saw, heard, and experienced on the small screen. Knowing that many people, other arty types like I consider myself, consider this junk worthy of being seen … leaves me chilled.
I won’t name the shows but both of the two “most popular” that I selected to see their pilot episodes have been acclaimed for several years, in one case, five years. One was so popular that people talked about its “final episode” with the kind of gossipy anticipation reserved for a new Pope to be elected. I had no preconceptions, other than the shows’ names were household familiar, meaning, “totally acceptable” even “entertaining” to a vast number of average Americans.
Well, this proves it: I’m a weirdo supreme.
The first show made me feel low and sad, realizing how so many people have been seduced by the weirdness of a story that’s all about making money and glorifying drug crimes and other horrendous violence. As a person who has delved in many risky areas of life, neither crime nor drugs hold any importance to me today, other than to see them as dramatic crisis to be quickly resolved. My allure for bad behavior is so minimal these days (and hopefully many other fellow citizens agree) that I barely can read a news item about violence or abuse of any kind, much less waste an entire hour of my life viewing someone else’s journey down the worm hole to hell.
But the next cable-show totally destroyed — for the short while I allowed it my full viewer’s concentration — my faith that mainstream TV is any more than what it really is: 99% garbage and 1% worthwhile and interesting and helpful for humanity.
That second shocker was a third-season cable-drama that was pure unadulterated pornography, with a few sideline stories. The storyline didn’t give me any warning, nor scenes preceding the ones that rocked me off my seat, jumping for the TV controls to shut off the disturbing image that kept being etched upon my mind by the sheer power of visual images. For the rest of that day I scrubbed hard, mentally, whenever that ugly pornographic scene tried to replay in my head.
Why do the “Powers That Be” insist that we in the West have to continue degrading ourselves? Can’t enough of us make a stand and help get rid of wasteful demoralizing trash masquerading as “art.”
As an artist, I MUST speak up.
As a person who has made a feature-length “family friendly” movie (LithiumSprings.com) with her husband, I understand more than perhaps others that every artist (including TV producers, film, and all art forms) have the choice about what to spend their time and energy on. It doesn’t always have to be about the worse, the lowest, the most scatalogical. Money can be made without selling ourselves down the river. We do all have choices.
And each of us has to choose what we view, or not. Or even at all. If more people shut their TVs off, switch off the garbage that now fills a lot of the airwaves, better shows would replace the completely profane ones that now seem to capture the never-satiated imagination of the American viewing public.
Does this sound like a sour-grapes rant? I hope not. I hope my artistic opinion inspires others to use their time (and not allow their vision, hearing, feeling to be held ransom) when we wish to be entertained, use these desires more wisely than watching what other people say is great but is, in actuality, sheer crap. Dookie. Bull. Caca.
Think for yourself and answer this question, “Am I helping our world become a better place by giving my support to this kind of voyeurism (for that is exactly what degrading TV and films are, if at armchair’s distance)?” Your answer of “Yes!” means you are a compassionate human being and yes, you have a Big Heart.
If you answer with “It’s no one else’s business what I choose to do with my time, what I watch, or what shows I think are entertaining,” then you are what I call a “Hard-Heart” … and compassion must be as foreign to your sensibilities as a pickle milkshake is to mine.
Art I like is helping our species, not hindering it. When it comes to visuals I like to savor deeply in my mind’s eye, so I make my flavor of art outrageously glorious, mind-bending and edgy, thought-provoking and filled with Love for All … stories, music, dance, theater, even comedy. This is me though. This is LordFlea and this is why I write the stuff I do.
Opinions Count! What each of us watches, counts. What you allow yourself to think, counts.
Make what you do on your own time, count for the whole world. Why? It will make you FEEL better, trust me, that’s why. Knowing that even the kind of TV shows you watch contributes to how our world spins, or screeches to a stop, will make you choose better next time.
The image that offended me so much isn’t so strong today. But I had to do a lot of mental scrubbing to get it out of my head. If I ever meet the producers of that show I’m going to have to control myself not to tell them their taste stinks.
Well, they probably think that about me and my opinions, too.
In the LIght of Love,
your pal Lord Flea