Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maybe Tuesday is just a bad night, but...

I turned on the TV last night, which happens infrequently these days, and began to flip thru the channels. On one network was a three-hour(!) "reality" show about overweight people trying to lose weight. On another was a competition featuring good-looking dancers wearing costumes that are only slightly tamer versions of what you might find on the girls at the local strip club. An entertaining competition I suppose, but also unavoidable hi-def titillation for any male viewer with a pulse (and an HDTV). I switched the channel quickly enough to one with serious looking men playing poker. Then to a channel showing guys with hip hop style nicknames playing each other at X-box. You gotta be kidding!

The cable news channels weren't much better with their usual lineup of fearmongers on the right and the left, and those claiming to be fair and balanced. Now there are times when one simply wants -- even needs -- to shift the cerebrum into neutral and enjoy some mindless entertainment. But who can reckon the effect on a person and a nation of a steady diet of this? Let alone on a follower of Christ? Neil Postman gave it a shot in Amusing Ourselves To Death:

When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainment, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk: culture-death is a clear possibility.

I wonder if we're there yet?