Remember when I said I post rants sometimes? This is going to be one of those times.
The most amusing part of this situation is that whenever I read the letters to the editor in the local paper and see that my former English teacher sent something in, I know it’s going to be good. First she was complaining about the fact that schools were dropping cursive from their curriculums and all her former students who were writers (a-hem) used cursive all the time and couldn’t believe it wasn’t going to be taught. Okay, I’d like to know where she’s getting this knowledge from because all the people I know who had her for English couldn’t stand her and maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine her former students call her on a regular basis just to inform her how much they’re using cursive. I’ve also gone into detail about how much I can’t stand cursive and personally am glad it’s being dropped because it was invented when people used quills and ink and wanted words as connected as possible to prevent blotting.
In her latest printed spiel, my old teacher was complaining about (of course) television, and how mean it is these days, full of violence and sex. Now, one of my many many many many many many pet peeves is that I can’t stand it when people complain about how the lamentable state of television, music, video games or whatever is bringing the downfall of society. No wonder everyone in the world is…I don’t know, dying or whatever. They never seem to say what the direct consequences are, just that they’re bad. And we need to go back to a time when it wasn’t bad, i.e. the nineteen fifties.
The easy argument to make is that back during that time period, fathers encouraged their daughters not to become engineers but wives to engineers, people of color could only be stereotypes, and women could only do shopping and laundry and it was okay to threaten them if they spoke out of turn. So why would anyone want to go back there? But, like I said, that’s the easy argument. Why not have the same “victimless” humor and be violence free without all the blatant bigotry?
First of all, humor is designed to make us laugh at things that make us uncomfortable or gross us out. Fart jokes are easy because the typical reaction for a person is to laugh at them. Does this make them good? Personally, I don’t like them, but it doesn’t mean that they or other gross out humor isn’t funny. And as for the so-called mean jokes, yes, I think there are some shows out there that are just plain offensive, laughing at certain people instead of with them, and unfortunately, the at shows seem a lot more popular than the with ones. But that’s no different than it was sixty years ago when I Love Lucy was the most popular show on television. Seriously, the only difference between then in now is targets.
Now for the violence, of course, that’s desensitizing everyone and making them kill each other. You know what, one time, I saw this movie that was just horribly violent. It had rape and mutilation and torture murder-murder-murder. It starred Anthony Hopkins. It was called Titus. You know, that movie based on a play by some guy named William Shakespeare. Who lived five hundred years ago. If you’d like to go back a thousand more years, there’s also The Iliad, which was assigned reading when I was a high school freshman. Tons of fighting , sex, and blood there, although at the age I read it I couldn’t even go to an R rated movie without an adult present.
People have found sex and gore entertaining for as long as there have been people. Despite all the threats that television and video games have desensitized us, I really don’t think it’s doing anything that plays and poems and probably drawings on frigging cave walls hadn’t done to our ancestors.
If you don’t like blood or sex or people being jerks, don’t watch it. But don’t blame it for corrupting the world.
PS. It’s hilarious to think what probably happened when people first started drawing in caves. “Damn wall paintings. Ruining family time for hunting mammoths. It’ll be the downfall of society, mark my words!”