Saturday, October 10, 2009

You Can't Shock Me Anymore

Once upon a time, when I was young and innocent, people could shock the hell out of me, not so much anymore. They can occasionally surprise me, make me raise my eyebrows or cause me a moment's pause, but true and genuine shock has become a thing of the past. I wonder if it's just me, if it's cultural or simple evolution. Women wearing skirts above the ankle used to be shocking, now a glance is hardly spared for a pair of barely there shorts and a bikini top at the Applebee's. George Carlin made a career of the seven words you can't say on television and now we hear worse on Cartoon Network or Family Guy. Dropping the F-bomb in a movie used to ensure an R rating, now you can hear it in PG13s (side note: the first PG13 movie released was Red Dawn--WOLVERINES!). You can see more graphic violence and death on an episode of Law and Order or any of the CSI shows.
I'm hardly a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but I think there is still cause for shock. I think there are still things that should cause our jaws to drop. I think there is room for stunned disbelief. I believe that 10 year olds should think French kissing is when a French person kisses you. I hold dear the notion that 13 year olds should find the opposite sex an equal mix of exotic and gross. I think the phrase "She's hot" should never be uttered by a 7 year old. I think 15 year old boys should be more fascinated by cars and baseball than by who got drunk last weekend. I pray that someday "Girls Gone Wild" is not a bestselling sensation and more a cause for revulsion.
I wonder when it was decided that people's everyday quirks and human failings would make for fine entertainment. The recent spate of shows about various mental illnesses becoming entertainment for the masses (Hoarders, Cheaters, Intervention, etc) is a little distressing. I will admit to having watched a couple of these shows and feeling like I should go to confession afterwards. The phenomena of Jon and Kate is really just kind of sad. The "Octo-Mom" is getting her own reality show (and is ANYONE surprised by that?). Nancy Grace's sanctimonious ranting is enough to make my eardrums explode. Dr. Phil seems more like Jerry Springer with a 'medical' degree (what exactly is he a doctor OF?) than Donahue. When did other people's faults and failings become must see TV? I'll admit to a love of "Smoking Gun's Dumbest Criminals" and I have to come clean about watching "Toddlers And Tiaras" a few times (more for the ick factor than anything else). I also have to wonder about the people who invite camera crews into their lives to expose their dirty laundry to the world and then bitch about it when it comes back to bite them in the heinie.
The next step in the full disclosure world we're living in is the recent development of Facebook and Twitter. I am a Facebooker but tend to post more pithy and silly items than any real soul baring. This is partially because I don't think everyone I know needs to hear about my cramps or a fight with my beloved and partially because if I'm going to bare my soul there's going to be wine, cigarettes and two very sympathetic friends at the same table with me. Twitter is something I don't get at all. I remember becoming completely turned off by Twitter when members of Congress were "Tweeting" during Obama's inauguration speech. "I'm at the speech and he's talking about something very important." Really?! This is noteworthy WHY? How about you shut up, put your phone away and actually LISTEN to the speech? ee cummings would completely approve of this high tech stream of conciousness crap being spewed out of every corner of the universe these days. Have we become so self centered that we truly believe the world gives a flying crap that we're riding on the bus and listening to Andy Gibb's greatest hits? Here's a "Tweet" for you: Your every thought does not need to be published! If so, we'd all be walking around with thought bubbles above our heads and cut out the electronic middleman.