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Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:39 PM

Coarseness and dumbing-down of our modern culture (cross-post)

Just got TV after 20 years. Cannot BELIEVE how dumbed-down and coarse the discourse has become.

Husband wanted to see History Channel last night (channel-surfing). There was a terrible, rude, coarse show on about Native Americans that treated them terribly rudely and offensively! Discovery Channel, no better.

I think American culture has become terribly coarse and rude over the past 20 or so years. In the guise of coolness, I guess. It trends too towards violence and pornography. Everything has to be graphic and in your face. Reality TV - so obviously contrived, but many Americans seem to think it is true. (Read a book!)

A rare film director who runs counter to this trend is Ang Lee (Chinese, but makes films shown in the West). Contrast this with Tarantino. People just have to go further and further to "shock and awe," grab attention, and we all just get stupider and more desensitized.

I believe Pres. Obama and his family are also a counter-trend: classy, dignified, educated, intelligent, gracious. This is what tea-party types find offensive about them!

Now get off my lawn!

31 replies, 2317 views

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Arrow 31 replies Author Time Post
Reply Coarseness and dumbing-down of our modern culture (cross-post) (Original post)
cilla4progress Dec 2012 OP
planetc Dec 2012 #1
BigDemVoter Dec 2012 #17
gblady Dec 2012 #2
Gidney N Cloyd Dec 2012 #3
slackmaster Dec 2012 #4
cilla4progress Dec 2012 #11
spanone Dec 2012 #5
Archae Dec 2012 #10
spanone Dec 2012 #18
kwassa Dec 2012 #6
barnabas63 Dec 2012 #8
IDemo Jan 2013 #31
barnabas63 Dec 2012 #7
Jazzgirl Dec 2012 #16
Flabbergasted Dec 2012 #9
cilla4progress Dec 2012 #12
Egalitarian Thug Dec 2012 #13
deutsey Jan 2013 #26
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #28
downandoutnow Dec 2012 #14
Igel Dec 2012 #15
Bluenorthwest Dec 2012 #19
cilla4progress Dec 2012 #21
1-Old-Man Dec 2012 #20
cilla4progress Dec 2012 #22
1-Old-Man Dec 2012 #24
Fumesucker Dec 2012 #23
seabeyond Jan 2013 #25
cilla4progress Jan 2013 #27
sibelian Jan 2013 #29
cilla4progress Jan 2013 #30

Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 01:28 PM

1. I find it difficult to recommend your post enough.

I watched Saturday Night Live recently after a long period of neglect. The show used to be rude to politicians, but the skit that persuaded me to give up watching made gynecological fun of the British royal family. The skit was rude, all right, but also pointless and unfunny. I suspect SNL is responding to the demographics of its audience: young, urban, plugged in, and culturally semi-literate.

For contrast, people could try watching a few classic films on Turner Movie Classics. Wit, talent, and energy flourished before the advent of technicolor. And after it, for awhile, it was shocking to hear Clark Gable use the word "damn" on screen.

If taste is a pendulum, we are about due for a swing back in the direction of clean dialogue and literate screenwriters.

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Response to planetc (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 06:27 PM

17. I agree with you about the poor quality, stupidity & pointless shows. . .

But I don't necessarily agree with you about SNL "responding to the demographics of its audience: young, urban, plugged in. . ." In my experience, the young, urban & plugged-in have been well-educated, culturally literate and knowledgeable about current events. It's often others--middle-aged, rural and definitely NOT literate, who are often the problem. And for full-disclosure, I am DEFINITELY middle-aged myself!

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 01:39 PM

2. was discussing this with a client just yesterday.....

it's like we, as a culture, have lost our moral compass.

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 01:58 PM

3. You didn't pick up on any of this over 20 years until you finally got a TV?

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Response to Gidney N Cloyd (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 02:02 PM

4. It's sort of a Rip Van Winkle thing

 

I've often thought of how shocked my father would be by many things if he could be brought back to life now, 47 years after he died.

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Response to Gidney N Cloyd (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 03:36 PM

11. Yes ...

I was just able to keep it at more of a distance. Last time I watched TV with any regularity it was the 3 networks. Not 500 channels of crass!


Family was hopeful and naive that "History" and "Discovery" channel would be serious and informative, while understandably entertaining. What we tuned into last night was well beyond the pale, and shockingly offensive and stupid.

Came upstairs and read. Turned in early.

Will use TV for only planned very selective viewing. In 2 years, when contract is up, will decide if it is worth it for that.

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 02:08 PM

5. i agree. just spent a week with relatives. saw teevee i would never watch....

vacuous....

insulting...

pandering...

ignorant...

guess it reflects society itself.

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Response to spanone (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 02:49 PM

10. Tell your relatives to turn off Faux "news."

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Response to Archae (Reply #10)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 06:30 PM

18. nope they didn't watch faux. most of the programming is shit across the board.

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 02:11 PM

6. American culture has always been coarse and rude.

This is not a new phenomenon.

I believe PT Barnum said that no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public, and he said it a very long time ago.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 02:14 PM

8. it used to be a bit different..believe me. nt

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Response to kwassa (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 12:07 PM

31. There have always been elements of coarseness in our culture

Not to the extent that now permeates society, however.

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 02:14 PM

7. I agree....

I feel really bad for children. When I was young, there really was a fair amount of quality programming - art, music, creativity that fostered growth. I swear I saw this on the Capt. Kang. show. Modern dance....where would a kid see this today?? nowhere...

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Response to barnabas63 (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 05:35 PM

16. Wow! That brought back a lot of memories.

I have always loved jazz and all kinds of music. I was raised on Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, Dorothy Donegan and way too many more to name. That was awesome! Thanks for posting.

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 02:40 PM

9. I also find it obnoxious and manipulating to over-dramatize such things as

documentaries, crime shows, or the epitome of sensationalism "reality" tv: anything but.

I have watched many documentaries over the years featuring music and overly dramatic vocals that are obviously designed to draw an emotional response. I wonder: "Are they trying to teach me or appeal to my emotions". It is not that the shows are not educational, but I feel that the production borders on manipulation.

You can likewise see this effect in shows such as, "FBI's Most Wanted" which sensationalize crimes and criminals, drawing from the deep well of terror, misery, and cynicism.

Some of the history channels specials are largely pseudo-scientific theories long in speculation and light in facts luring the gullible into believing largely fictions. These shows use sensational ideas to attract viewership because that is more important than integrity.

When I happen to be in the same area when one of these travesties is playing, I do so with a mixture of a snide smile and a grimace of horror. Yes, I'm being overly dramatic. Perhaps, I'm reflecting what I've seen on tv.

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Response to Flabbergasted (Reply #9)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 03:38 PM

12. Sad,

really ...

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Response to Flabbergasted (Reply #9)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 03:43 PM

13. And don't forget the ubiquitous conditioning that no one succeeds against the

 

omnipotent power of authority.

People actually believe that police solve crimes and the guilty are caught. They believe that a conviction is synonymous with guilt. They believe that buying that unattainable gadget will change their life and make them happy.

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Response to Flabbergasted (Reply #9)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:10 AM

26. Hell, TV "news" programs feature music and overly dramatic vocals as well

It took them maybe half a day to come up with a sappy violin soundtrack to play during their Sandy Hook reports.

I really don't think we need that kind of musical prompt to tell us that we're supposed to be saddened by such a tragedy.

Just report the damn news and stop turning everything into a soap opera.

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Response to Flabbergasted (Reply #9)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 05:32 AM

28. +1. it's all so manipulative. i wonder if it always was or if you just notice it more as you age?

 

or as you become disillusioned?

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 04:18 PM

14. How right you are! Not only is TV pretty awful now, but I'm amazed at how critics fall over

 

themselves these days praising it.

With the family at my sister's over Christmas, and we all watched an episode of "Modern Family" - which is highly critically praised. I was highly underwhelmed. It's just a brain-dead sit-com with lame jokes. The gay couple were incredibly stereotypical. And how am I supposed to believe that suburbia is chock-full of smoking-hot women married to old, schlubby men who aren't incredibly rich?

And that leaves aside all the gross stuff that gets its ass kissed by elite critics - Dexter, Breaking Bad, etc. I think in part this is a result of the increasingly small, exclusive world that the better-off live in these days. They live in crime-free enclaves, and get their vicarious jollies drooling over what to them is exotic violence. Plus these fortunate sons and daughters pretty much all grew up together - those who got MFAs and go to Hollywood to be writers know that their compatriots who got English and/or Journalism degrees will stroke their egos and praise whatever dreck they create.

I like good humor, which is real hard to do, and will forgive it a lot of crudity, but things go too far. Turned on the TV once in the middle of that Louis C.K. show (he's another contemporary sacred cow) -- came up right in the middle of interminable masturbation jokes that just went on and on. Sorry Louis, you may be a comic genius, but that stuff's a little too hard for me to swallow.

There's still some good stuff on TV to watch now and then, despite it all. Thank god for C-SPAN 1, 2 and 3! And Turner Classic Movies - with no commercials! And I don't claim to be highbrow - I've caught a good number of episodes of Gold Rush and enjoy it, but that's about it!

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 05:24 PM

15. I'll mention Russia in the late 1910s through the 1920s.

There had been a cadre of educated folk. Some were effete, many just "cultured". Then there were the masses, mostly uneducated. The ranks of the refined had been increasing. They were becoming more and more sensitive to more and more things.

After the Revolution educated people had to decide. They were either going to go more effete or more plebian. The pro-plebe contingent was the wise move. The effetes were typically destroyed in the 1930s.

This resulted in a "coarsening" of Russian culture. The uneducated masses suddenly had some education, but where told that their cultural norms were as good or better than the old cultural norms. This affected language, literature, films, and pretty much everything else.

Something akin to this happened to the new cultural elite in the early 1990s. The barely educated masses were still there, but a new cultural elite had managed to take top place. The democratization of the media swamped the old "new standards of speech" and culture.


Much of what's happening in the ME is similar. Iraq was cultured. But in educating the masses they weren't assimilated to the prevailing "secular" and "educated" culture. They were simply taught to read and do sums. There was again no buy-in, and they had a competing cultural norm--one that was more tribe-centric, religion-centered, and less tolerant. As most groups are.


Why should the US be any different? Classical music was an imposition by the educated classes on an "authentic" working class with its own, purportedly superior, cultural norms. Not making fun of people in wheelchairs or good spelling or not having 50% of your words be profanity is again an imposition by the educated classes on an "authentic" population with its own cultural norms.

And it's even worse if you're not the same skin color, because then your genetics make it impossible for you to even understand.

Obama has an edge to what he says. He's bicultural, and just as he's adopted AAVE as an active second dialect and is comfortable playing off of it he's also comfortable with other cultural norms, some of which he believes are superior.

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 09:22 AM

19. Ang Lee is an American. Naturalized counts you know. His films are produced in the US for some

time now. His films include some of my favorites and also films like 'The Hulk' which is 'The Hulk'.
Your OP's emphasis on words like 'coarse and rude' makes me wonder what you'd think of Lee's 2007 film 'Lust, Caution'. NC-17 for explicit sex scenes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lust,_Caution_%28film%29


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Response to Bluenorthwest (Reply #19)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 04:56 PM

21. Haven't seen it, but recall hearing of it.

Sounds like I should!

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 09:33 AM

20. I think we receive about 150 stations (DirectTV) but of them only about 5 are watched

My wife turns on Jeopardy every weekday evening at 7, its a pretty good show.

Now and then there is a movie worth watching, but not often. HBO series can be good, "The Wire" may have been the best television program (lots of violence, none of it gratuitous) ever shown, and of course there are always Current TV (well, maybe not always) and Free Speech TV. Surprisingly enough the Speed Channel can be interesting at times too.

Where is the great wasteland? Broadcast television (what we dish folks call 'local TV'). If we had to rely on the airways or cable I would not bother to own a television.

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Response to 1-Old-Man (Reply #20)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 04:58 PM

22. What about PBS and

NatGeo?

I intend to watch some special programming, the Kennedy Center Awards, Inauguration, even the Oscars, the other awards show. We like Glee and I heard that Nashville is pretty good.

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Response to cilla4progress (Reply #22)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 05:40 PM

24. That is a particular pet peeve of mine

You can buy the local channels package for an additional $5 a month, I think it is. If your local area (I'm in West Virginia but they consider us part of Pittsburgh) has aPBS channel then that is the one you get and the national feed is denied to you no matter what package you have. So if the local public channel is for shit, which the Pittsburgh channel is, then that is the only one you can get.

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 05:08 PM

23. Oddly enough this song was released 20 years ago



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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 09:46 AM

25. it is called raunch society and has permeated who we are. to the extent our congressmen say fuck u

we rarely turn on tv anymore. well, i never do and hubby is stuck on a couple channels. i think he is more disgusted by it than i am. my kids do not watch tv. and this is no longer about me directing them. as teens they pretty well make those decisions. but, in our house people are prettty tired of the ugly.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #25)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 01:24 AM

27. Impressed to hear your kids are so discriminating!

You've parented well!

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Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:09 AM

29. I've thought about this and I think the only solution is self-generated content.


I think the hole left by those who generate cultural content has to be filled by the rest of us generating tightly constructed, well-thought out USEFUL ideas that get seen. As often as possible.

Even a message on an Internet discussion board can be done well.

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Response to sibelian (Reply #29)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 11:58 AM

30. Nice!

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