American Desensitization

If there is one thing that the American (and world) media is good for, it’s desensitizing us to things that should shock and appall us. For years, we’ve seen recording artists push the envelope of what is or is not acceptable in our society. We’ve seen the same thing on television and in the movies. We’ve even seen it on the radio with the “shock jocks.”

One of the ways that I’m seeing a lot of this problem is with certain types of television shows. Particularly, certain personality types on certain shows. One of the most popular shows in America today is American Idol. And yet, this popularity seems to be more as a result of people’s desire to hear Simon rip contestants apart rather than to listen to and appreciate the talent that some of the contestants bring to the stage.

Another example is the reality show “Hell’s Kitchen.” And who can forget “The Apprentice?” The attraction to these shows seems to be mostly surrounding the fact that there is some person on the show, usually a person who’s opinion is highly valued by the contestants and/or viewers, who speaks the “brutal truth” in a way that degrades and demeans the contestants.

At what point did the American audience start sucking up the idea of this kind of feedback as being entertaining? When did we start enjoying watching someone get verbally and/or mentally abused and crushed on national television? How is that supposed to be fun and entertaining? What does that say about us as a culture when this is the type of thing that we enjoy?

I wonder how quickly a show that shows people being compassionate, kind and edifying would get taken off the air. People don’t want to see things like that. If they need a positive fix, they’ll watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (actually, one of my favorite shows). But aside from that show, everyone seems to want to watch a bunch of meaningless drama.

When The Biggest Loser first started, it seemed like it was going to be another good, positive, uplifting show. And, to an extent, it is. The lives that are transformed on that show…it’s just amazing to me. But, season after season, even that show has been getting more competitive and full of drama as people try to “play the game” and are increasingly more deceitful and conniving.

When it comes to positive, uplifting television, one wonders if there will ever be another Michael Landon out there who will bring an edifying voice back to prime time entertainment. I’m very glad, at the very least, that Sherwood Pictures (the group that brought us Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof) are gaining ground in mainstream entertainment. Maybe, like me, others out there are hungry for a new message that brings hope, inspiration and true meaning to our lives through the arts.

Perhaps only time will tell if this type of thing will really catch on and we’ll see a new “bandwagon” of positive, moral, inspirational material emerging from the media. One can hope. But, even if it doesn’t become the “latest thing,” at least there’s some of that out there for those who long for it.

What are some of the shows, books, movies, etc. that have inspired you or given you hope or made you feel better for having experienced them?

Grace, love and peace.

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