Sunday, March 20, 2011

How TV Did Nothing To Your Life

I've been thinking a great deal about How TV Ruined Your Life and its anti-consumerist message. It rips apart many of the arguably very negative aspects of our material society and highlights grotesque examples like My Super Sweet 16.

But hidden in these attacks, and truly the attacks from anyone who talks about how modern aspects of life are bad is the sociological fallacy of The Good Ol' Days. It is the same phenomenon as the World in Decay perspective that so many religions have. Essentially, now is bad, some other time is necessarily better. By almost every metric, this is wrong. That's why I call it a fallacy.

Instead, what I think the show, and all of the synonymous perspectives are lamenting are symptoms of underlying issues. Materialism, celebrity culture; these are not the problems. The problem is a society filled with shallow, half-dead shells of humans. People two-hundred years ago would have been materialistic just as they are today, only they didn't have the materials with which to do it. If anything, the only variable keeping the general population of this bygone day from turning to the perverted excesses of the the elite (who's opulence was either equal to or far greater than that of today) was a society that told them the abandon all hope.

The problem we need to address is a population of unfulfilled humans who reach out into the world for things that fulfill primal, nebulous, hind-brain type pleasures. These provide fleeting bits of happiness, and they're left unsatisfied and yearning for more, but at least they were something approximating happiness for a short time.

It's then no surprise that the things that he attacks directly in his show are all of the pleasures and fears that cater strongly to the reptilian parts of the noodle: Fear, death, possessions, and sex & companionship. We focus on these because we are animals programmed to focus on them. We shouldn't be pointing to TV and media, we should be pointing to an educational and societal system that doesn't bother to give kids an understanding of the world to inoculate them to such thinking and behavior.

No comments: