Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thomas Jefferson is Rolling in his Grave

My friend Rob and I have been in a kind of long distance argument with some people over our disdain for popular entertainment. Rob and I have ridiculed such popular entertainments as Transformers, 300 and Dancing With the Stars. I don't have anything against any of these in particular (though 300 might be the stupidest movie I have ever seen), but I do hold a grudge against what passes for art in our society.

I have been accused of being elitist, and I don't necessarily disagree with that appellation. I believe that some art is better than others, the same way that I believe that some baseball players are better than others and that some food is better than others. It's funny, if I said steak is better than Kraft Mac N Chee, I'm not an elitist. If I say A-Rod is a better player than Yuniesky Betancourt, I'm not an elitist. But if I say Children of Men is better than 300, suddenly I'm an elitist. That's not to say that Mac, Yuni and 300 are not worthy of anybody liking them. That IS to say, though, that just because somebody likes something doesn't mean it's good.

I like America's Funniest Home Videos. I would watch it three hours a day if I could, no kidding. But it's not "good". It's entertaining, but it's not "good".

To say that something is good requires the frontal lobe, the thinking part. To say that I like something requires the brain stem, the reptilian brain, the feeling part. So I can't argue, and I won't argue, if people say they like something. However, I can argue, and will argue, if someone argues that something is good just because they like it.

And what America likes is getting, on the whole, stupider and stupider. We are not exercising the frontal lobe, the thinking part of our brain. To wit:

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

"I just get sleepy when I read," said Richard Bustos of Dallas, a habit with which millions of Americans can doubtless identify. Bustos, a 34-year-old project manager for a telecommunications company, said he had not read any books in the last year and would rather spend time in his backyard pool.

Read the entire article here.


S said...

I actually laughed when the person was complaining about getting tired from reading books.

Reeding iz harde!

Eric said...

Hey, somebody should tell the guy to read in his pool!!!

They have floating loungers for that sort of thing.

Nancy D. said...

You are a misanthrope- not an elitist.

The McGuffin said...

And to further Nancy's comment...I would say Eric is a misanthropelitist with a big heart, a swell family, a great taste in music with a dash of nihilist tendencies...potent combo...

Eric said...

I think that should be my new nickname--Potent Combo.