[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball


sleaze tv

it's official: mtv = "incessant sleaze." you know, i used to watch a lot of mtv for "educational purposes," or so my twisted little mind reasoned. if i actually listen to korn, i queried, should i not be more able to relate to the guys in the youth group @ our church? i should say @ this juncture that i did, indeed, find korn interesting and have a "korn" sticker on my guitar case, but that is quite beside the point. what i'm getting @ is that my motives, @ best, were mixed. maybe part of me watched and listened for the music or to be more "relevant;" the rest of me watched as one watches a vase falling. it's an interesting phenomenon in itself, but it's the spectacle that holds my interest. i honestly couldn't believe some of the things i saw were on the airwaves. christina aguilera grinding on some guy in a boxing ring? come on. to what interest does that appeal if not prurience? (nota bene: if you want a more erudite statement of the question, tom howard asks "what, we might ask, constitutes the watershed between an interest in, not to say a fascination with, the lurid and the titillating and a greater interest in the annals of sanctity?")

cnn reports that mtv spokeswoman jeannie kedas said the network "reflects the culture and what its viewers are interested in," and calling into question mtv's responsibility is "underestimating young people's intellect and sophistication." of course it reflects a fallen culture and holds the interest of hormonally charged teenagers (and inquisitive youth ministers). but intellect and sophistication are not the issue here. lewis lectured about "the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are." (the abolition of man, san francisco: harpercollins, 2001 (18)). and it is incumbent upon parents (not christian parents but parents, for heaven's sake) to teach our children that the tripe masquerading for entertainment on mtv distorts sensibility and sexuality and humanity. lewis continues:
as the king governs by his executive, so reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the 'spirited element'. the head rules the belly through the chest -- the seat, as alanus tells us, of magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. the chest-magnanimity-sentiment -- these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. it may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal. (lewis, 24-25).
i defy anyone to curl up to spring break week on mtv and conclude that it is anything but appetite run amok. and appetite, sexual or otherwise, run amok is objectively wrong.

truthfully, i'm not sure why i'm so incensed @ the moment by the sexually graphic programming on mtv, or the gratuitous gore on the practically inane csi, or the rampant narcissism of curb your enthusiasm. but i look @ my daughter -- tiny, impressionable, hungry to engage whatever's out there, whether it's a purple dinosaur or whatever the execs @ nbc decide to throw @ her on fear factor -- and i cringe. am i being overly dramatic? do i see a tempest where there's merely a teapot? maybe. maybe. but i am concerned w/ the degeneration of sensibility that considers who's your daddy? entertainment. if it's paranoid to believe the fox network is out to intentionally undermine what's left of our society's tattered moral underpinnings, then i guess i'm paranoid.

so this was a jeremiad. i'll give you that. but i can't believe i'm the only person who thinks these things. and i don't believe i'm merely succumbing to fundamentalist morality, christian or otherwise. i'm a democrat. i just wonder if anyone else is awake. and on that note, i'll let thom yorke say what i want to say:
it's the devil's way now
there is no way out
you can scream & you can shout
it is too late now

you have not been
paying attention
(from 2+2=5)


  • At 7:14 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pryor said…

    Agreed! Just curious...what effect did becoming a father and especially a father of a girl have on your persepective on these things?

  • At 11:01 PM, Blogger Tracy said…

    Sammy, I used to share your fascination with MTV for "educational purposes". I came to the conclusion that MTV is a commercial; one big, long commercial. And sex sells. That's about it. (so now, I shall ramble, b/c face it, I am too lazy too have my own blog spot). Bob Dylan said it in the 60's, in a couple of ways, in 1 song: "While one who sings with his tongue on fire
    Gargles in the rat race choir
    Bent out of shape from society's pliers
    Cares not to come up any higher
    But rather get you down in the hole
    That he's in", and of course, "It's easy to see without looking too far
    That not much
    Is really sacred."
    I can remember being in 8th grade and finding a picture of Jimmy Page in Cream magazine. I put it in my locker, b/c any picture of Led Zeppelin in 1978 was valuable, too me. These days, rock and pop artists are Gods to corporate America, b/c Money is God. And all this great technology we have, and we bombard ourselves with sexual images and marginal music, just shows me how cheap and really uninteresting we are as a society. It leads me to have strange beliefs, strange beliefs like hoping my favorite band (My Morning Jacket) doesn't "make it big". You know what I mean? I watched Britney Spears' little sister on Letterman last week, and Letterman asked her how she got "discovered" and she said she really wasn't sure. The bottom line is it's adults who run these corporations who put this crap out over the airwaves, and they do it for money. Adults are infatuated with sex and money and material goods. It should not be suprising that teens are too.

  • At 5:17 PM, Blogger sammy said…

    guys --

    i think it was just a very bracing wake-up call, especially since my first is a girl. i don't know whether you saw the thread on here a few months back about frontline's the merchants of cool, but that was a shock to my system as a dad. you can watch the whole thing online if you haven't seen it yet. i concur with tracy's point that adults are infatuated w/ sex and money, so we naturally project that onto our kids; however, if kids are anything like i was 20 years ago, they do think about sex a lot anyway. it's just that corrupt corporate america makes it easier to feed the fantasy w/o having to squirrel away spiegel catalogs or whatever (i was a bit of a "failure" as a kid by the culture's standards of kid-dom b/c i couldn't master the problem of acquisition of porn and just had to make do). to tell the truth, jeremy, i think my feelings have been influenced by a number of separate events over the last few years, including but not limited to seeing kids or thirteen for the first time; the frontline special; reading david wells' books @ seminary; a growing awareness of the ascendancy of the internet as the mechanism par excellence for debauchery, something i've flirted with myself in the past; growing up in general, and just the teeniest bit of sanctification; and, not least, having a daughter.


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