Who made me return to this cesspool?

While I try not to go out of my way to look for such things (a major reason I avoid television), last night I was reminded that the type of thinking which annoys me does not go away simply because I take a vacation from it.

In order to view a slideshow of pictures I took during the trip, I had to switch off the TV box and plug my camera into the monitor's video input jacks. But as my luck had it, just as I finished the slideshow, unplugged the camera while switching back to the TV box, I heard a loud voice (on Bill O'Reilly -- a show I don't watch for this very reason) angrily denouncing the "cesspoolization" of culture.

I'm ashamed to admit that at that point I was unable to resist turning the TV back on! This was my big mistake, because I could have ignored O'Reilly, his guests, and the whole tired argument. But I would have then been in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation, because I was about to go to bed. If I hadn't monitored the show, then speculation about the contents of the "cesspool" would have kept me awake. But watching it pissed me off so much that I had to talk about it to calm myself down, and it was too late to write another blog post about a very tired topic -- which is the inability of self appointed leaders to give people credit for their own judgments, good or bad.

O'Reilly's guest, one Clarence Jones, maintained that the "cesspool" consisted of the usual gangster rap style music which degraded women. If he'd stopped there I'd certainly have seen his point, and I have absolutely no problem with people who dislike the cultural tastes of others condemning either them or their tastes. But this guy was not acknowledging that the rap music fans' taste was their own. Instead, he maintained that "industry executives" were responsible.

Fatcat executives at SONY, Warner Brothers, MGM.

Life would be so simple if this were true. Because after all, the same executives who control the contents of our vast national cesspool also have control and custody over wonderful, non-culturally-polluting music like Mozart and Bach. (I think they also have racier stuff like Guy Lombardo, Lawrence Welk, and maybe even Liberace, although I worry about the latter, as it might tend to promote sodomy....)

Obviously, all that needs to happen is to persuade this powerful clique of rich white men to offer Mozart and Bach to the people who consume gangster rap, and all will be well. They'll line up to buy it in the same stores that now sell the gangster rap, and we'll have the civil society everyone wants.

Likewise, I think the powerful executives who sell liquor could be persuaded to switch to health drinks instead. Like the fans of rap music who only imagine they're fans, alcohol purchasor are simply doing what they are told, and have all been brainwashed by a vast conspiracy of distilleries, breweries, and liquor distributors -- right down to the evil bartender who pours the drink.

Reminds me of Hollywood's plot to turn us all into sodomites or homo-lovers by releasing "Brokeback Mountain." (This sinister plot -- aka the "Homosexual Agenda" -- has tentacles reaching into every community with a theater or beauty salon!)

Our thoughts and our tastes are not our own, because someone else is always responsible.

And there's no shortage of "leaders" on both "sides" to tell us who.

My problem is that I don't blame leaders; I blame "followers." The latter I strongly suspect of gravitating towards what they like, and avoiding what they dislike, and I think they're doing what they want, and not being involuntarily led. By blaming them, I'm merely giving them credit as human beings for liking what they like -- whether I like it or not.

No wonder I have trouble sleeping.

posted by Eric on 01.17.06 at 07:27 AM


Welcome back.

J. Case   ·  January 17, 2006 12:14 PM

Overall I agree, but I have two objections:

1) There is no doubt that Hollywood has some influence on popular tastes and attitudes, which it wields deliberately with a clear agenda.
2) How can you mention Bach and Mozart in the same sentence as Lawrence Welk and Liberace!?!?!

Van Helsing   ·  January 17, 2006 1:32 PM

Today the most successful leaders are those with the foresight to determine where the crowd will go, then jumping out in front.

Hugh   ·  January 17, 2006 4:08 PM

I hope you will forgive me for this rather unkind thought: while I can see your argument vis a vis Rock Hudson or Tab Hunter I am reasonably certain the thought of Liberace would prove a disincentive to sodomy.

Flea   ·  January 17, 2006 5:56 PM

Americans have crapulous taste. If Hollywood didn't capitalize on this by pumping out endless loads of dreck, all those fatcat studio executives would be out on the streetcorner selling pencils.

I believe it was Frank Zappa who once said that stupidity exists in such a plentiful quantity, it must be one of the base elements of the universe.

Lori Heine   ·  January 18, 2006 1:45 AM

Thank you all! It's great to be back.


Eric Scheie   ·  January 20, 2006 12:47 PM

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits