Fluff and nonsense
0 comment Monday, June 16, 2014 |
Our cotton-candy-fluffy-bunny news
...To confirm the permanence of our society's deterioration, news of Lindsay Lohan, as well as the meltdown of Britney Spears, spread across TV screens Thursday and Friday like a bad virus on your computer. Yet these are these stories Americans want. We clamor for news about our favorite celebrities. Does she trim her nails herself? Did he have a weekend fling on the beach? Will they get married, or just continue living together for the next 12 years?
Why are we so shallow?''
Are we so shallow?
I've blogged about the issue addressed in this article before: our junk-food news, or as Jonathan Krive calls it, our cotton candy news.
I question whether we are fed this stuff because of public demand, or because for whatever reason, our media elites want to feed us this non-nourishing, empty-calories substitute for real news of importance.
There are elements of both aspects: if people are demanding this non-nutritive filler as their 'news'-- and I suspect a certain segment of the public does prefer it -- it is because of decades of dumbing-down, in our media and in our school system and our popular culture generally.
Still, I encounter plenty of people, not overly educated or highbrow people, high-school educated, not hard news junkies, who express disgust at the surfeit of the 'bimbo' stories. Outside of Lohan's fanboys and fangirlies, I think many people wonder why the news channels waste so much airtime on Lohan's misbehavior. It is not just overeducated, ultra-serious people who are disgusted with the cotton-candy, bimbo-oriented 'news' on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN. It is average people too who are sick of the fluff and nonsense that fills our news channels and those supermarket magazines.
However it is probably true that the younger generations in particular, having grown up in a trivia-driven, celebrity-fawning culture, are more accepting of it. And these younger generations have, not coincidentally, grown up with an educational system that neglects the basics and focuses on making kids 'feel good about themselves'. There is also an overemphasis on Politically Correct ideology at the expense of teaching young people about their own heritage and culture. I've heard from some of them that they spent more time in school learning about (probably apocryphal) African kingdoms than about the founding of our country, or about the English traditions from which our unique American system derives.
How can young people take an interest in the actual news of what is going on around the world, and hope to decipher it, without a grounding in history and political science and geography?
Krive, in the linked article, quotes from Joseph Farah's piece on 'The dumbing down of America.'
In that piece, Farah quotes questions from an eighth grade exam from the year 1895.
For example, these questions on American History:
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?''
Now I, despite having had a good solid education back in the olden days, might have to struggle a little on some of those questions, but I wonder how many could answer more than one or two nowadays?
Back in the era in which that test was written, an eighth-grade education was all that many Americans would have; they had a graduation ceremony at the end of the eighth grade school year, and received certificates, following which many of them would proceed to some kind of apprenticeship in a trade or livelihood of some sort; only the more academically talented would go on to high school, and even fewer of those on to college. That was perhaps a better system. It's often been said that an eighth-grade education then was better than today's high school education. Nowadays, even the high school education has been woefully dumbed down, so as to allow as many as possible to 'graduate', and then go on to college, where they are really out of their depth -- despite the fact that college, too, is watered down and geared to the lowest common denominator.
Even when I attended college in the 70s, my counselor, in helping me put together my class schedule, commented that few students were choosing a classical education, with basic courses like World History, English literature, and so on; most seemed to be choosing psychology and sociology and 'relevant' courses like Minority History and Women's History. Once the old core requirements were dropped and dumbed down and the politically correct pabulum offered, most students opted out of the basics and chose the fluff. Nowadays we read of classes having to do with the 'gay experience' and pornography, as well as the frivolous courses on popular culture, which is, after all, ephemeral.
The goal these days seems to be to grind out as many 'graduates' as possible, rather than to truly educate and enlighten the majority of students, or to fully develop the talents of the more able. And the goal is also to make students 'feel good about themselves' by forcing some kind of pretended 'equality' among people, with the mediocre student and the laggard not made to feel inferior by some inconsiderate prodigy.
So whose interest does it serve to make people more shallow and ignorant, or to focus their attention on the antics of drug-addled 'celebrities'? Are we fed this stuff because the media elites truly think it is newsworthy? Is it simply eye-candy, because people want to look at 'beautiful people' like Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan? Or is it meant to distract us from the real, behind-the-scenes, world-changing events? Is it just a sideshow to keep us occupied and to further dumb us down?
Or is it merely another side-effect of the feminizing of our society? It does seem that many women are more focused on the doings of other women, the clothes they wear, the hairstyles, the plastic surgery, their private lives, who they sleep with and/or marry, and so on? I'm a female and I know that not all women are into this gossip as news thing, but a good percentage of them are.
Just look at the TV channels which are 'women's channels': the Lifetime Movie channel, which specializes in soap-operaesque movies about domestic abuse, troubled romances, and so on, and the Oxygen network, which takes a relentlessly PC, 'you-go-girl' look at the world, with focus on 'women's problems': relationships, fashion, sex, body image.
Back in the 1970s, in the era in which feminism was commanding so much attention, Irish writer Desmond Fennell
wrote a piece which asked an interesting question. I cannot locate anything of the piece online, and I no longer have it, but his question was essentially 'why do feminists act as if woman has no soul?' The question was in response to the new 'feminist' talk shows which were all the rage then: there were many such talk shows, hosted by some earnest feminist, interviewing other women of course, on subjects of interest to women. Fennell, if I am recalling correctly, pointed out that the women never discussed deep spiritual or philosophical questions, but only things like women's health, relationships, body image, and feminist politics and letters. They seldom seemed to deal with the wider, more inclusive world. The same gynocentric concerns are served up by Oprah and her ilk today. Fennell pointed out that the feminists criticized the 'misogynistic' prejudices of early theologians who questioned whether 'women had no souls' -- and yet the feminists themselves seemed to corroborate that opinion by dwelling only on parochial female concerns, mostly of a fleshly nature. That same observation can be made today.
But I stop short of blaming only my fellow females for this phenomenon of junk news. Maybe the reasons for this trend include a little of all of the above.
So what, if anything, can we do about it, if we don't like it? The usual answer is 'just turn the TV off', which may not be bad advice, but even those of us who turn off, tune out, and drop into the real world instead of the TV world, still have to deal with the reality which is fed and fostered by the trashy content of the media. And if we have children, those children are affected by the unfortunate trends, unless we truly do drop out and homeschool them and isolate them from the worst excesses of junk culture.
But my concern is the dire state of our country, and of the West in general, and the fact that the cotton candy news is acting to dull people's awareness, to merely keep them entertained and distracted. The junk news is empty calories, taking the place of necessary mental nourishment.
Ultimately this junk news diet will be deadly to our Republic, producing, as it does, dulled and disconnected citizens who lack information or critical thinking skills to make responsible decisions about our future.
Does it help to write to the networks or other news media and make your concerns known? Or will they respond once they lose sufficent viewers and readers? We read every day about how the dead-tree media, the old print newspapers, are losing readers at an alarming rate. Has this changed how they do business? I see no evidence of that yet. And with cable TV, news channels are not subject to the same pressures as newspapers, considering that cable channels are carried as part of a package, so that the channels with a tiny viewership are not eliminated from the lineup.
The only hopeful sign I can point to is that people are slowly getting disenchanted and downright fed up with their TV news and newspapers, and many are looking elsewhere, as on the internet. And now the blogosphere is an alternate source for news and especially opinion and analysis not allowed by the narrow standards of the controlled media.
I can only hope that the TV news media and the dead tree media will become increasingly irrelevant and obsolete, and that people will turn to sources which treat them as sentient, thinking human beings and not as dull-witted units of consumption.

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