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The other day I ran across this interesting take on the Hunger Games phenomenon. The author presents her theory as somehow related to being a Christian, but I don't think that matters -- her points stands just fine without bringing religion into it.

[V]iolence in The Hunger Games...serves a purpose: It is not gratuitous. It is not voyeuristic. But...We the viewers are not witnessing a past event. We feel like we are seeing the Games in real time, that we are part of Panem and, by virtue of sitting in the audience, part of its dysfunction. That powerful revelation encourages us to contemplate the ways that we are complicit in violence in our own world and the ways in which we do not object...[I]ronically, The Hunger Games' greatest triumph would be an empty theater and streets full of people demanding the kinds of changes needed in Katniss’ world and in our own.

An interesting thought. What if they released Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty and no one bought it? What if not a single person paid to see Saw [insert any roman numeral]? What if the audiences for Maury Povich, Bridezilla and Hoarders dropped to zero? What if we simply stopped being complicit in the cheap nastiness and ugliness that's marketed to us in the guise of entertainment?

I'm not saying it has to all be fluffy bunnies and puppies, because yuk. But we don't have to mindlessly suck up the worst of what's on offer either. More thoughtful choices: Why am I watching this? Is it truly entertaining, or does it feed my own sense of superiority or my wish to mock others? Am I gaining my pleasure from someone else's pain/problems/weakness? When you put it in those terms, it doesn't sound nearly as harmless.

Columnist George Will wrote a great essay on this back in 2001, which I still have tacked up on my fridge. Among other things, he says this:

The historian Macaulay famously said that the Puritans opposed bearbaiting not because it gave pain to the bears but because it gave pleasure to the spectators. The Puritans were right: Some pleasures are contemptible because they are coarsening. They are not merely private vices, they have public consequences in driving the culture's downward spiral.

Full column is here. Something to think about.


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Mar. 29th, 2012 01:40 am (UTC)

This. I dont watch "reality tv". I dont watch maury or Jerry. I dont have time.

A lot of entertainment is simply a diversion away from what really matters.

Mar. 29th, 2012 02:50 am (UTC)
+1 :)
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