Tuesday, March 1, 2016
REALITY TELEVISION FOR RATINGS AND MONEY AND THE DECLINE OF AMERICA'S MORALITY IN EVERY AREA
Reality TV which is cheap to produce but in a highly competitive entertainment world that now goes way beyond the four major networks and the traditional television set, we see the perfect storm for the destruction of human maturity but worse yet society's morality or mores if we want to remain secular in our use of terms.
Secularism use to have its own morality based upon our Judeo-Christian heritage. You could see it in the television of the 1950's and early 60's. Shows like Andy Griffith had a strong story line that often had a moral point that was uplifting. But in no way would television shows intentionally make fun of or denigrate the faith of people, whatever that faith was, although extremes might have been shown in dramas, but never comedy. Well intentioned humor might have been used in comedy routines.
Dramas which would depict vile behavior never showed extreme violence, blood and gore. Much was left to the imagination. The same would be true of sexual immorality or acts, nothing explicit was shown although adults watching new what was implied.
Even soap operas were respectful of moral boundaries in terms of how these shows were viewed and bad guys were clearly understood as bad guys, immoral or off the wall. Immorality wasn't glorified but was associated with being the villain.
Television and other medias now portray immorality in a delicious way and as winning. Losers are those who are prim and proper, those who are religious and portrayed as self-righteous or bigoted because of their religious beliefs. Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular are villanized and denigrated.
And now with the blurring of private lives of actors with their media shows, reality TV blurs reality and fiction although many of the reality shows are contrived but one has the feeling that what is depicted truly depicts the lives of the so-called stars.
In a world where so many people no longer practice any form of religion, Catholic or otherwise, most people get their sense of morality and their desire to imitate others not from religion or the lives of the saints but from the cult of celebrity. What else accounts for the success of so many shows that depend on what celebrities think and say?
And now on to the presidential campaign. Usually politics is ugly. But I think all of us can agree what we are seeing in the Republican candidates takes the cake.
And it is all fueled by the 24 hour a day news channels who have made the news, be it serious or obnoxious, into reality TV for the purpose of ratings and making money for the networks.
And on the very real level of our lives, look at how people use Facebook and the other social communication venues to castigate, denigrate and gossip about others. Look at the language that is used that would cause a sailor to blush.
What does this say about us as we become more and more caricatures of human beings, more plastic than real?
How do Catholics, lay Catholics in particular, take seriously the Second Vatican Council's mandate that the laity bring their Catholic faith, especially our morality, our understanding of good works, to the very places that the laity have the most profound influence, at home, at work and at play, in other words in the public square such as politics and influencing others in a positive with with an authentic Catholic witness?
The churchiness that we have so emphasized for the past 50 years, meaning involving the laity in the institutional structures of the Church and her liturgy has eclipsed what the laity actually should be doing, not churchified ministries and work, but what they should be doing in the real world.
How can we recover civility and maturity in our lives and in the public square, on the internet and elsewhere. Is it possible to be a light set on a hill or are we covering our light with a bushel basket of sophomoric behavior?