Stop the world, I want to get off
Pick up the newspaper or switch on the television and you will find immediate confirmation that reality is certainly stranger than fiction. In fact, it almost proves Norman Mailer’s famous prediction that the psychopath might well become the dominant personality type in the very near future.
Consider the case of Thomas Beatie, for example, a former woman who is now a happily pregnant man. Impossible you say? Not in these days.
“Beatie was impregnated with sperm from a donor,” ABC News reported. “His wife, Nancy, inseminated him at home with a device she said was like a syringe without the needle. They bought it from a veterinarian and it is typically used to feed birds… He has an intact vagina, but he did not say how he would deliver the baby.”
Thomas, whose birth name was Tracy, felt that he was trapped in the wrong body when he was in his 20s. Apparently, psychoanalysis failed and Beatie had his breasts removed, subscribed to testosterone injections, and even managed to grow the semblance of a beard.
But Beatie decided to keep his female organs right where God originally put them because he hoped to someday “have a biological child.” Wife Nancy is infertile.
In light of such stories we might be forgiven for asking: What the hell is going on? Are there no limits to how far we can go anymore? Should we remain tolerant of every single lifestyle, or is there some magic moment when screaming “ENOUGH!” is appropriate? Are all traditions, however noble and well-intended, meant to be broken?
Should the world of culture take notes from the economic crisis?
Many Americans, liberals and conservatives alike, argue that the state has no right to tell us how to live our lives. Fun-loving liberals demand that government ‘stays out of our bedrooms (at the same time, incidentally, they flaunt their dubious lifestyles at every public venue),’ while the stern conservatives say ‘leave our businesses alone.’ Only when things go flying off the rails do we turn to the government on bleeding knees to rescue us.
The global economy just went down in flames because the business community demanded a deregulated, laissez faire business environment to work in. And unfortunately for the entire global village, the financiers and bankers got exactly what they wished for.
Governments around the world, in an effort to attract big corporations and big tax revenue, heeded the demands of the business lobbyists to deregulate their operations. At first, the corporations, as well as state coffers, reaped a huge financial windfall from the radical deregulation and ‘economic reform.’ But America’s so-called ‘Cinderella Story’ economy soon proved to be exactly that: a fabulous fairy tale.
Overnight, the ‘irrelevant state’ was back in the driver’s seat where it will probably remain for a very long time.
“We repudiated entirely customary morals, conventions and traditional wisdom,” commented the great economist, John Maynard Keynes, speaking about the Depression of his own era. “We were, that is to say, in the strict sense of the term, immoralists.”
In looking for the best way to maximize profits, we stubbornly clung to the belief that less government involvement in the economy was the answer. And what happened? We got burned. So with that painful lesson in mind, it might be the appropriate time to ask: Will less government involvement in the realm of Culture also get us burned?
In other words, if we continue to permit every sort of sordid lifestyle and entertainment, insisting on the right to protect every whim no matter how degenerate, will we succeed in destroying our society exactly as we have destroyed our economy?
Say 'hello' to our childrens' mentors
Who are the role models for today’s youth? Your child’s teacher? A grandparent? A trusted friend? Sorry, those quaint days before the entertainment revolution took root in our children’s minds are long over. Instead, let’s have a big round of applause for respectable guys like Brian Hugh Warner, aka Marilyn Manson, the American shock rocker who croons to bloodcurdling lyrics like this:
And I don’t want ya and I don’t need ya
Don’t bother to resist or I’ll beat ya…
There’s no time to discriminate
Hate every mother------ that’s in your way.
We may safely assume this is not exactly what the American founding fathers had in mind when they guaranteed the “freedom of speech” in the first amendment of the US Constitution.
Manson (who borrowed his stage name from the late actress Marilyn Monroe, and convicted murderer Charles Manson) was featured in Michael Moore’s documentary film “Bowling for Columbine,” where he defended himself against accusations that his music provided at least some of the hate-filled inspiration for America’s (then) biggest act of carnage (On April 20, 1999, two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a killing spree at Columbine High School, killing twelve students and a teacher, and injuring dozens, before committing suicide).
“I definitely can see why they’d pick me,” Manson told Moore in the documentary. “I think it’s easy to throw my face on the TV because I’m… the poster boy for fear, because I represent what everyone’s afraid of because I do and say what I want.”
Moore, who is somehow sympathetic to Manson and his outrageous agitprop, commented to the singer during the interview that “the day that Columbine happened, the United States dropped more bombs on Kosovo than at any other time during that war.”
Thus, Moore blames our government officials, and not the liberal entertainment industry, for the increasingly violent behavior of our children. This form of reasoning basically goes back to the old argument that every person – even our impressionable children – are personally responsible for how they respond to society's deranged crackpots. But with the world of entertainment presently omnipresent and omnipotent due to technology, how feasible is it for parents to monitor their childrens' daily habits?
In addition to being dedicated Manson fans, Harris and Klebold spent a disproportionate amount of time playing violent video games, like Doom and Wolfenstein. They also scrawled the acronym NBK, which stands for Natural Born Killers, a film by Oliver Stone that portrays a husband and wife duo traveling across the country on a killing spree, into their school notebooks.
Proving a direct link between two students that embark on a shooting rampage with their appetite for violent music lyrics and video games is difficult, but not impossible. While it is true that not every child who is exposed to such forms of entertainment will go out and kill somebody, it does not disprove that some might.
In 2006, US psychologists demonstrated that violent video games desensitize people to real-life violence.
“It appears that individuals who play violent video games habituate or ‘get used to’ all the violence and eventually become physiologically numb to it,” said Iowa State University Psychology Instructor Nicholas Carnagey.
But a person does not need to be an expert to understand that long-term exposure to any particular message – whether good or bad, positive or negative – will invariably affect the viewer. Indeed, much of the appeal of Hitler's Nazi party depended upon drama, theatrics and powerful music to attract followers. And in our modern age of invasive technologies, it has become practically impossible to shield children from the message from the ‘Satanic Mill’ of the entertainment industry.
In the words of youth pastor Jason Janz, the founder of Citizens for Peace and Respect (CPR), “Will everybody who watches a Lexus commercial go out and buy one? No, but a few will.”
In entertainment we trust
Religion is no longer the "opium of the masses," as Karl Marx once opined. The opium of the masses is our godless 24/7 entertainment treadmill, gratuitously provided by a veritable arsenal of electronic mediums. In light of its power and influence, does this massive industry, which is more lucrative (and possibly dangerous) than the US Pentagon, need some kind of regulation?
Let's face it: few people really want the state to regulate, censor and plan their lives. As John Stuart Mill advised in his book On Liberty, “A government cannot have too much of the kind of activity which does not impede, but aids and stimulates, individual exertion and development. The mischief begins when, instead of calling forth the activity and powers of individuals and bodies, it substitutes its own activity for theirs.”
So it seems that we are forced to make a choice between two unhappy alternatives: welcome with open arms every sort of lewd entertainment and lifestyle that proves to be a short-term commercial hit, although a (potential) long-term cultural contagion. Or passively wait the day when government becomes, in the words of Walter Lippmann, “a new form of absolute state, a self-perpetuating oligarchy and an uncontrollable bureaucracy which governs by… coercing the sovereign but incompetent people.”Even film critics in Cannes could not help but notice an excess of blood and gore at this year’s film festival.
“Rape, scalping and mutilation… had some film buffs running for the cinema exit doors,” Emma Jones wrote for the BBC. “But these were the movies that the Cannes jury chose to reward this year.”
This year’s most-talked-about production was Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, a violence-soaked romp dedicated to slaughtering as many Nazis as possible in the most creative ways possible in the allotted 90-minute time frame.
It seems that most people would rather impose some sort of limitations on what is socially acceptable in the cultural realm, otherwise the government, in response to public outcry, will take the matter into its own hands.
And it is no secret that most things the government gets their hands on quickly turns into a Rated-R nightmare.