Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Growing Problem in the World and Television

Today, I saw something that reminded me of this growing problem; it was a link to a site called Literally Unbelievable. I've seen this sort of thing before but not in such bulk. It's more than just an inability to detect satire; it's a complete lack of critical thinking in a substantial amount of people. But I do want to address my first concern: what the hell is wrong with you, seriously? And what are we doing as a public to fix this?

There have been fairly clear signs of this in the mainstream. For instance, we needn't look further than The Simpsons: Homer went from being a screw up well meaning, most of the time, dad, to a complete sociopath with a mental disability. And the show used to be clever satire. Sure, the writing has improved recently: Homer Simpson is no longer completely insane. But why the transformation in the first place? Simple, it stopped being "funny" when his misadventures were too normal. Yeah, that's scary but honest. I believe they had to make him dumber to be "funnier" to its growing, devolving audience.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:
Looney Toons for adults? 

The Big Bang Theory is another great example of a show that's been dumb downed for its viewers: The science references have become more general and non sequitur. It's, now, more about romantic relationships. And people would rather watch these interesting characters try to be like the average person than allow them to be themselves. This goes doubly so for Sheldon; who now reminds me more of Duncan "boy genius" from Mystery Team with each passing episode — spouting out random, irrelevant facts as a sign of his "intelligence." It's become very superficial and Friends-ish.

TV is a great way to see how things are intellectually going with the average person, and it's not looking that good. I used two examples of shows I like, sort of. But there is a plethora of shows based on superstition, ignorance, the sexual exploits of teens and early 20 somethings, and ... vampires. This isn't Thomas Pynchon; this is Thomas the Train.

I've already wrote a bit about the lack of science fiction in my previous blog: Eureka Canceled by SyFy. So, I'm not going to rehash the lack of Trek on TV. Essentially, my entire point is that instead of making people smarten up to join in, we dumb it down for them.

If we combine this with the current "infomation" age, then we have all the answers we need. The bar to mock someone is so low now that everyone is "smart." Anyone can tune into Maury and feel like Stephen Hawking. They can also Google facts from their phones and have less pressure to memorize anything.


Good satire, like The Onion, requires a basic level of intelligence that was common, even among the barely literate, at one time. I would call out the public educational system, but my real education started outside of high school. As long as you know how to read and do basic math, your ignorance isn't anyone else's fault but your own. As of right now, entertainment is the most important thing to most people. So, what better avenue to effect change than there?

I'd, also, like to add: I recently saw a "courtroom" TV show where the judge rules with a baseball bat, and the defendant stood in a cage. The case featured disgruntled female wrestlers. The official ruling: They had to wrestle in a kiddie pool filled with pudding for the "championship" belt. It reminded me of something you'd see on the TV of a parallel world — where, intellectually, things went horrifically wrong ... yeah.

1 comment:

  1. Your courtroom show is "Eye for an Eye." with Judge Extreme Akim, I was semi-forced into watching it when I worked overnights, that's what I got for not bringing a book or drawing supplies to work.