Are Americans as Trashy as Our Media Believes?

Deacon Greg Kandra has the story.

This is the latest cover of Time Magazine in Europe, Asia and South America:

POPE TIME 1

This the latest cover of Time Magazine here in the good old USA:

1101130729 600

I guess it makes sense. You know us Americans; we do love our lynch mobs. We’d rather glue our well-rounded rear ends to the sofa and drool over the misery of others before taking to the streets to yell for more blood than anything else.

We don’t want to hear about how our government has all of us under surveillance or that we are playing footsie with another war that has nothing to do with us or, or, or …. certainly and for sure we don’t want to hear anything good, like say, about the Pope. 

After all, we’re Americans and our interests revolve around Friday night wrestling, “reality” tv shows that depict maladjusted people with gross obsessions and fetishes and talking heads on “news” shows yelling at one another. 

Are we really this stupid?

Are we truly this trashy?

And if we are, who do you think made us this way?

As I said in another post, it’s time we turn off our televisions and go outside in the sunlight and fresh air. We need to spend some time talking to real people and doing real things that involve our own lives. 

Get your head out of the trash bin, America. Before you make yourself as mentally, morally and socially ill as the people you watch for your entertainment. 

  • Dale

    HL Mencken is often quoted as having said that no one has ever gone broke by underestimating the taste of the American public.

    Those exact words, while pithy, can’t be verified. However, writing in 1926 about tabloid newspapers (which he despised,) Mencken said something similar:

    “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand, and even, in many cases, to read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads, and an appetite for more. This assumption is folly. They dislike ideas, for ideas make them uncomfortable. Tabloids, seeking to force such things upon them, will inevitably alarm them and lose their trade. The journalism of the future– that is, mob journalism — will move in the direction that I have indicated.”
    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-11-22/news/1993326155_1_barnum-plain-people-shock-jocks

    Perhaps it is an elitist view, but it was also prescient.

    • EMS

      Of course, it’s an elitist view, as they’re the ones dictating what we watch on TV, listen to on the radio and read in our newspapers. Both sides, left and right, seem intent on making money by catering to the lowest instincts in their followers. Look at what’s happened to TV in the past 50 years or so. Look at the TV shows of the past, the golden age of the 50s. Yes there was junk on TV then, but there were also plays by real playwrights, stories on popular shows such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, I Love Lucy, Ed Sullivan, etc., etc., that not only entertained but also made you think. For example, Ed Sullivan had not only pop stars and rock stars, it also had scenes from legitimate theater, music from opera and classical pieces, the greatest entertainers (white, black, whatever) from around the world. TV back then was supposed to teach in an entertaining way and show the best of the world, not the worst. And no, they didn’t ignore the bad stuff going on. Gunsmoke as an example had stories about prejudice against black, Jews, Indians, etc., stories about how people should live together and behave toward each other. Look what today’s media “kings” did to a show people my age remember with affection, The Lone Ranger, which did teach kids to value justice, friendship and loyalty. What is today’s version teaching kids? As has been shown in study after study, studies which the talking heads make fun of, showing kids and adults the junk of sex, violence and foul language on show after show after endles show does influence how people do act toward each other.

      • Dale

        EMS, I have only spotty memories from childhood of the shows you mentioned, so it is hard for me to evaluate them. But I would point out that they came from an era when television was dominated by three or four (if you count DuMont) networks. Because television was broadcast over the public airwaves, and regulated by government, television shows were held to a community standard. It was an era when the television networks employed censors, who would edit out anything which was considered (sexually) offensive. That all changed with the advent of cable television, particularly HBO, which made a point of being more “realistic.”

        But I wonder if your view isn’t all that different from Mencken’s. He argued that people, given a choice, will choose to view trash rather than view what is edifying. And essentially, that is what we have in television today: freedom of choice, with audience ratings driving what is shown (or rather, what remains shown.) Isn’t that what democracy looks like? Or should there be moral standards imposed by on programs in order to uplift the viewer?

        I don’t want to wander too far from Rebecca’s point though. News programming has crossed the line into entertainment. This is particularly true with cable, but also with the broadcast networks’ primetime newsmagazines. Question: if that is what the people want, is that what they should be given? Or should executives decide what the audience needs, and give them only that?

        Mencken predicted what tabloid journalism was the future of journalism in the US. And to a large degree it has become true. Is that a bad thing?

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Yes, we are that stupid. I can’t believe how an event of one person defending himself and tragically killing the guy who was pounding on his head can turn into this national crises. I’m sick of it. I’m not one to normally support Liberal trash magazines but given the national uproar I guess it making the cover is warrented. However I’m sure Time did a Liberal hack job. If anyone is still unsure of the total story, see this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ebu6Yvzs4Ls

    • Sus_1

      I think people are sick of the violence. There is a 17 year old kid dead. Whether it was his fault or not, he’s still dead. When you add him to the list of people that died via a gun, it should be a national uproar.

      • pagansister

        Well Said, Sus1. I live in Florida—-and that child should not be dead.

        • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

          Oh, I guess you would have preferred George Zimmerman to be dead.

          • pagansister

            No.

            • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

              So what is all this ruckus about? What specifically is being asked here? (I don’t mean you but in general.) The end of stand your ground laws? Stand your ground doesn’t appear to have occured here. But here’s a statistic I just saw today. Of all the people who have claimed stand your ground in Florida, 30%, over double the black population, have been african-americans defending themselves agaisnt all that crime that occurs in black neighborhoods. Black Floridians have used the Stand Your Ground laws to their advantage. If you want to over turn stand your ground, you will be hurting law abiding citizens, especially african-americans.

              • pagansister

                IMO, and it is just that, no one really knows what happened that night. I didn’t watch the trial (I have better things to do) but to me it was the story Zimmerman told, vs a recording that had one man calling for help—and who knows which man that was? Experts certainly didn’t and of course Trayvon’s mother/father thinks it was his voice while the other side thinks it was Zimmerman’s. Why is this country hung up on this? IMO again, it boils down to the sad fact that many times any black male is still looked at as possible trouble in some areas, whether he is or not. I’m not happy with the verdict, and wonder if things had been reversed—-the neighborhood watch man was black and the hooded teen a white male, would the verdict have been the same? As for the “stand your ground” law—–what ground? Hindsight is great—-IF directions had been followed, (do not follow) perhaps all this wouldn’t have happened and perhaps no one would have been shot. As for the different cover on the magazine? The interest here for the Pope and his activities is not a high priority when the next choice is a controversial verdict. Like any other magazine, sales are the important thing and the subject has to interest the country (s) it is sold in.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        What do you mean? If George Zimmerman did not have a gun, he probably would be the dead one. People are just throwing all sorts of hysterical crap around because they have been agitated and aroused by the race hucksters and this irresponsible media. George Zimmerman did nothing wrong. Unfortunately we can’t ask the 17 year old why he decided to sucker punch Zimmerman, get on top of him, and then beat on his head. Trayvon was the one who was violent.

        • Sus_1

          We’ll never know for sure but I think if George Zimmerman didn’t have a gun, he would have stayed in his car and waited for the police. Then the trained law enforcement officers could have decided whether Trayvon was up to no good or not.

          My feelings have nothing to do with the media. I don’t want my neighborhood patrolled by an armed, untrained person. My kids walk down the street wearing hoodies. If someone starts following them in a car, it would scare them to death. If someone got out of the car after following them, they would be terrified.

          • hamiltonr

            Let’s stop this who should be dead conversation. I respect both of you, but this line of talk is unseemly and distasteful and I don’t have the stomach for it.

            • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

              I wasn’t arguing for who should be dead. I was putting forth who would be dead if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun. I don’t want anyone to be dead.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            I’ll say the same thing to you I said to pagansister below:

            So what is all this ruckus about? What specifically is being asked here? (I don’t mean you but in general.) The end of stand your ground laws? Stand your ground doesn’t appear to have occured here. But here’s a statistic I just saw today. Of all the people who have claimed stand your ground in Florida, 30%, over double the black population, have been african-americans defending themselves agaisnt all that crime that occurs in black neighborhoods. Black Floridians have used the Stand Your Ground laws to their advantage. If you want to over turn stand your ground, you will be hurting law abiding citizens, especially african-americans.

  • KyPerson

    I know that our culture has been dumbed down quite a bit from what I remember. While there are patches of excellent writing and drama on TV (Justified, Breaking Bad) there are way too many Real Wives and Kardashians to suit me. However, it’s the news media that have me down in the dumps. For the past several months it’s been all Trayvon, all the time with small breaks to cover such vastly important stories as the guy from Glee who overdosed. Meanwhile some stories (Gosnell) are ignored, others (the continuing killings in Chicago) are brushed over) and still others, (IRS, NSA, Benghazi, the trainwreck that is Obamacare) are given a sentence or two.

    Lately, I have been suffering from a vague sense of dread and anxiety and I’ve come to the conclusion that I have been watching way too much cable news.

  • FW Ken

    Yes, Americans are just that stupid. More specifically, we prefer our feelings to actually solving problems and that’s pretty stupid. The Martin/Zimmerman situation is a perfect example. It’s very satisfying to pontificate on The State of Race in America today. We get to feel righteous and smug because we know how things should be. For those of a certain age, we even get to feel young, harking back to the glory days of the Civil Rights Movement.
    But here’s how things are: Trayvon Martin was a thug or thug wannabe and would likely have been killed by another black kid or shot while committing a burglary. Alternately, he would kill someone and spend his life in prison. If racism did kill Trayvon (an iffy proposition given that Zimmerman is manifestly not a racist), that’s one dead kid compared to hundreds of kids dead from drugs and gangs, which are a symptom of sick families. If you really care about kids and violence, go after drugs and the emptiness that comes from materialism and leads to drugs. Go after the instability that afflicts families, particularly black families. Strengthen families and you will actually impact violence.


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