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Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


Kicking Television, Or, the Wretchedness of Popular American Culture (Not A New Theme But)

I don't normally watch much television outside of the occasional news broadcast, which is as much to pick up on currents in American news reporting as it is for the sake of the news (or lack thereof) itself. I will occasionally watch Law & Order and a few other shows, but not very often. This isn't really out of any high moral or aesthetic standard; instead it's more because I don't like being interupted by commercials. I suppose growing up with the Internet has gotten me used to information and entertainment practically on demand. I would rather get my news from Google News, and if I want to watch a movie I'll get a DVD.

Anyway, I have been watching a good bit of television over the past couple of days as a result of being marooned in our dorm lobby awaiting students needing to be checked in. Unpleasant experience. American television really is about as bad as they say it is. There is little artistic content and even less that might be considered redemptive; most of it is either hyper-sexual or hyper-commercial or both at once. Irony, sarcasm, (as ends in themselves) and cheap titillation: par for course. Quite frankly, after watching several straight hours I begin to understand how a non-American from a more traditional culture could, if exposed to adequate quantities of American or American-inspired television see our culture as nothing more than a cesspit. It's quite depressing.

I still maintain that there is more to American culture, as manifest in it regional variations, that is edifying and worth keeping. There's more than wars and Wal-Mart; music beyond MTV; film and literature beyond soft-core pornography. But watching our television you'd be hard pressed to discover that.


Blogger Steve Hayes said...

I suspect that is true of all cultures. Television reflects one aspect of popular culture, newspapers another. We keep in touch with popular culture to some extent by reading the placards for the Sunday newspapers tied to lampposts: sex, soccer and celebs.

11:38 PM  

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