Friday, February 6, 2009

American Tragedy

A co-worker delights in sharing the plot lines of a show called "The Intervention" in which families and friends attempt to intervene in the lives of people caught in horrible addictions and situations. The latest episode seems to involve a childhood rape survivor who will not swallow any food (or saliva!) and is feed only through some sort of feeding tube. My observation was that the show will have to resort to more and more bizarre scenarios in order to keep its audience. I suspect the reason someone would watch this would be to achieve some sort of catharsis. I feel the same thing about "Super Nanny", that wife swapping show, etc ...

The sense that the culture is degrading feels more urgent with every new "reality" TV show. But, if people are benefiting from these gross shows, we shouldn't complain, right? After all, the Greeks did this all the time. Read Oedipus Rex.

What if all those Greek tragedies (and Shakespearean one's? or am I being unfair?) became popular during times when their own contemporary cultures were in periods of "cultural decline?" If western civilization experiences four generation cycles, do these "coarsening" events occur in the same phase of the cycle?

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