Headlines these days are full of horror. It’s become the new normal. Kids shooting other kids. Law enforcement officers and soldiers shot to death. Home-grown terrorists of all stripes doing shocking and horrific things.
There is no respect, none at all, and we are surprised.
And yet, we shouldn’t be.
Just look at popular TV shows and movies, for a clue about what our culture is like these days.
The most popular shows are horribly violent, with shootings and murders and bombings and other violence. Think about how often young people have seen this kind of stuff growing up. In our youth TV meant Westerns and family shows and comedies. Today it’s blood and gore.
M and I are fans of the cop and jail reality shows, which have given us a deeper understanding of what law enforcement officers face every time they put on their badge. We watch for hours, mostly with furrowed brows and puzzled looks. Because the lack of respect for law enforcement and the overall sense of entitlement among perpetrators are astonishing.
This is not how we were raised and not how our parents and grandparents were raised. But, apparently, this is what’s out in the world now—criminals who think they know “their rights,” who believe they don’t have to follow law enforcement’s orders (“you can’t tell me what to do!!!”) and who act out in the craziest of ways.
So let’s take these crazy, entitled people who consume violent media content and make guns easily available to them.
Are we surprised at the headlines now?
Are we surprised that officers in northern California were shot at point blank range last week? And that others were hacked with an axe? That a Canadian soldier was killed in Ottawa? That high school students were gunned down by a kid armed with his dad’s handgun?
I’m surprised, and what I’m surprised at is that so few people in charge acknowledge the link between this violence, violent media content and the easily availability of guns. And I’m surprised that–thanks to the gun lobby– gun control still isn’t a reality in this country, despite the huge amount of gun violence in our nation, far more than that of any other first world country. It’s like the wild West out there.
There’s something wrong with our value system. Maybe not yours or mine, but certainly that of our society as a whole.
I point the finger at media and TV specifically for playing a major role in fostering a value system that I simply do not understand. In the interests of TV revenue, they not only glorify violence but they make celebrities of people who in any other context would be considered total losers. Criminals, even.
Let us take, for example, the recent news about the Honey-Boo-Boo family. Apparently Mama June is dating a sex offender. And not just any sex offender; one who had molested her own daughter in the past.
Her own daughter.
I mean. Seriously??
Yes, these are the kind of people TLC featured in a reality show. Or they DID…. until the network discovered that a sex offender was going to be part of the mix. Before anyone could get down on TLC, they cancelled the show. Instantly. Because they knew that this Honey Boo Boo situation was going to be a big boo-boo. But they’d made their money off it. They could now move on to some other low-rent family.
And the American media audience will happily watch.
I don’t know what kind of genetic brew spawned Mama June, but she seems completely clueless that dating a man who molested her daughter is inappropriate. And this is a character, a “star” on a popular U.S. “reality” show. We may snicker as we watch, but we watch, and that is one of the problems.
Now, I’ve never seen the show. And I had absolutely no idea why a network would choose such an appalling family to feature. Except for the money, of course. The same reason the gun lobby is so powerful. Money. The American god.
And I can’t sign off without mentioning the Kardashians. I’ve written before about how outraged I am that young women idolize Kim Kardashian and buy her products—and that parents know that her fame began from the strategic release of an explicit sex tape. What mother in her right mind would think Kim Kardashian was a good role model for her daughters? Or allow that kind of TV program in their home?
Of course, these shows are not the only ones that any reasonable person would question. Check out just about any network for violence, mayhem and low-rent characters. Take time to notice the values they portray–and those we see in today’s world.
Because even as we rail against the headlines we see every day, we refuse to do anything about it. We let the NRA keep gun control at bay. We let our kids consume inappropriate media content. And we consume media product that is so far afield from the world we want to live in that I simply do not understand why we continue to be shocked at our violent and value-less society.
And what’s scariest is that I see no way this will change. None.
How about you? What do you think?