The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ask Not For Whom the Dinner Bell Tolls

     In day four of the saturation coverage of the death of Osama Bin Laden the Sacramento Bee ran a sidebar about parents dealing with the troubled questions that their children might be asking like, "Why are all these people celebrating because someone died?"
     Most of the answers amounted to "It's different this time."

     What it really comes down to is "This man did something so bad that it made a lot of us be not as good as we used to be." but we really don't want to admit that. Besides, I'm not sure we can really blame it on the Twin Towers,  although September eleventh changed America. I blame the media. I'm not talking about violence on TV and in film making us indifferent to the real thing. That argument has been done long ago. I'm talking about a more deadly and insidious menace.

     I'm talking about reality shows.

     We've been watching this crap for over twenty years now and nearly all of them have one thing in common. They get the viewer to enjoy watching someone be mean and petty and cruel to someone else.

     Years ago I was detoxing an couple of recovering heroin addicts who wanted to break the chains of methadone maintenance. I watched them watching "Cops" on TV and I was astonished to see them laughing as they watched policemen mocking people just like them. Twenty years later there are dozens of reality shows on. They cost next to nothing to produce compared to a drama so the profit margin is huge on even a low rated show. The successful ones all have something in common: They either show someone who is an authority figure sneering and humiliating someone s/he is there to "help", or they show people pitted against each other in an elimination contest...usually where at least one cruel judge sits on the panel.

     The point is that we are being conditioned out of our humanity and our empathy for our fellow men. We are taught to watch suffering with glee when our masters ring the bell.

     Twenty years ago we would never have had a Presidential debate argument over whether it was right for America to torture prisoners.

    We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

    Be seeing you.


  1. Time was when you and I LARPed a world a little 'gritter than the real one". White Wolf is issuing 20th Anniversary PDFs of the old WoD. I wonder if it was not predicive.

  2. I think perhaps the roots are deeper than that, perhaps reflected in a good idea gone terribly wrong.
    I'm on the cusp of the Boomers and GenX; I see some of my own teen angst in my niece and nephew, but the depth of their narcissism is beyond my understanding.