Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tawdry, Stupid, Outrageous, and Mean

Would you believe that in that bizzare culture sometimes known as the Nacirema, one of the ways you can become famous and make huge sums of money is by being either tawdry, stupid, outrageous or mean, or all four simultaneously. Because of the growth of technology, in addition to the well-known holy-mouth-men and other medicine men previously described, a new status of “bad-mouthed-person” has been created. It ‘s true. Some of these people are also called “Shock Jocks.” To be a Shock Jock you don’t have to actually know anything, you certainly don’t have to be truthful, and it seems to add to your reputation if you can be both outrageous and mean. I can only wonder why this is so, but it is. I also do not understand the appeal these bad-mouthed hate merchants have, but they do. Week after week they make their completely obscene salaries by saying things that are either tawdry, stupid, outrageous or mean. As near as I can determine they have no other talent (if, indeed, this be considered talent). Their major function seems to be to provide outlets for the hate and envy that festers among the “have-nots.”

Limbaugh, who dropped out of college after two semesters (having, according to his mother) flunked everything, has made his living since age 16 as a radio disc jockey and talk show host. He is a classical example of a stupid, basically no-talent individual with a history of drug addiction and divorce. His latest claim to fame (or at least attention) has to do with his description of Hilary Clinton as “Just a secretary who needs to wear garments to hide her fat,” a description that can easily be described as tawdry, stupid, outrageous and mean, to say nothing of irrelevant, totally unnecessary, and uncalled for. That’s what he does. That’s what he gets paid multiple millions a year for. Previously you might recall his calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she testified on the importance of contraception for women, again a remark that was unnecessary, irrelevant, outrageous, mean, stupid, tawdry, and even disgusting. His listeners, and apparently there are millions of them, seem to love this, called “ditto heads” they repeat his absurd claims to their friends and apparently revel at rolling around in the gutter with him.

There are, of course, others of the same ilk, but none can match Limbaugh for vile and disgusting. Ann Coulter is another of these no-talents who makes a fortune for herself by saying truly outrageous things about public figures and sometimes even just ordinary people trying to live their lives. Here is a sampler:

“If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

"I was going to have a few comments about John Edwards but you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot."

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much." -on 9/11 widows who have been critical of the Bush administration.

Ha, ha, ha, just good clean fun, Coulter doesn’t seem to concern herself with tawdry and stupid, she just goes directly to the outrageous and mean, and she makes a bundle doing this crap at every opportunity.

There are many others in this tradition of lies, exaggerations, and expressions of stupidity. Glen Beck (although I think he may actually be crazy), Bill O’Reilly, Hannity, and still more, but they don’t even come close to Limbaugh and Coulter when it comes to downright sleaze. Bill Maher, on the left, is similar in some ways, as is Lewis Black and even Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert (but in very minor versions comparably speaking). I like to think there is at least an occasional grain of truth from those on the left (but this is sometimes doubtful, especially when it comes to Maher).

Anyway, I find it strange and disturbing that people can make fortunes by merely saying ridiculous untrue, awful, stupid, and outrageous things, but so it is among the Nacirema. Some people believe that Nacirema culture was at one time on a “higher” level but has badly deteriorated over the years. That is, culture, with the capital “C” (as in what used to be also called “Civilization”) has given way to more lower class behavior as expressed in language, courtesy, manners, and what have you. In other words, ordinary people used to aspire to Culture, but have fallen more and more into the culture of the “masses.” I’m sure this has to do with mass entertainment, the depressing inadequacy of television and movies, ubiquitous anti-intellectualism, and the growing expansion of the “nouvea riche,” complicated topics far beyond the scope of a mere blog.

Television is the first truly democratic culture - the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want.

Clive Barnes

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