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Life imitating art – please no!

Updated on September 25, 2016

A few years back I recall a news item showing a Japanese television show where the normally ritualistic people made asses out of themselves in an effort to win prizes. I remember thinking, “Thank God we’re not that crass in this country.”

Then came Survivor, followed by a rash of “reality” shows in America. Because Survivor was so popular, I checked in to see what the attraction was. It had nothing to do with the ability to survive – it had to do with being popular and having the ability to oust people out of the program. This appeals to the need to empower oneself and be rid of offensive neighbors and co-workers.

This attraction to “reality” bloomed like a flowering weed. Housewives, dance and vocal competitions, Jerry Springer … it’s never ending, it seems, even when the audience knows it’s not really real.

Now Donald Trump is flaunting this childish behavior. I’ve reached my limit.

Even the advertisements for such shows as Bring it, Preachers Daughters and Dance Moms make me want to turn the television off. These shows demonstrate the basest of human nature and revel in it. A viewer could easily get the impression that it is common – and legitimate – to insult employees, family members, clients and co-workers. If this is in fact reality, this is a whole different world from the one I know, where even a vague feeling of offense was cause to be called into the HR office and fired. Language was carefully watched, and swearing was forbidden.

Especially considering these shows are aired when children and young adults can watch, it is horrendous that viewers are given the impression that it is legitimate to bully people, jump into bed on the first date, get into people’s faces, and practice a variety of insults.

What are we teaching each other and our children about the right to be rude and crude? What happened to gentility? What happened to discerning the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness? What happened to the challenge of finding more creative threats such as “May the dung of the camel pile high in front of your tent” rather than “I’ll scratch your eyes out”?

I’m ashamed to be American in this pool of mud, slung at a moment’s notice. I miss the times when being an adult meant overcoming the id and learning self-control. Adults should not need diapers (until old age) – they should learn to excuse themselves to the bathroom and take care of their baser acts in private.

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