Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday RANT: The media, the prime time death buffet, and virginity worship

What the bloody hell is going on here, people?

We all fantasize about travelling back in time, or ahead in time (okay, maybe that's just me...). Right now, I'm having a major future-travel fantasy. I'd love to go forward about 200 years and look back on what's going on in the world right now. It's called perspective, which seems hard to get these days.

Is the chaos we see in the news each day perception, or reality?

Is it just that we have more information (thank you, Internet), and we've gone beyond our brain's capacity to assimilate it, so the world seems more disjointed?

Is the world actually just more of a mess than ever?

Is it all the media's fault?

I vote for all of the above, although I like the last explanation best, because it's fun to blame impersonal institutions like The Media and The Church.

On the media:

Here's a quote from a review of The Da Vinci Code (movie) in today's NY Times: "It seems you can't open a movie these days without provoking some kind of culture war skirmish, at least in the conflict-hungry media."

Does everyone else see the irony in this? The person commenting on the conflict-hungry media is a member of the conflict-hungry media. And they're in the very act of perpetuating conflict.

Frankly, I can't imagine a movie with less capacity for controversy than one based on a book. I mean, the book may be controversial, but once you get to the stage of turning it into a movie, the controvery's pretty much diluted by the fact that, in this case, 40 MILLION PEOPLE have read the book and know the story and the big controversy it contains. So how could this movie be controversial?

My point isn't to write the word controversy 24 times (well, okay, that was sort of a covert objective), but to rant about the crazy whirlpool of navel-gazing that is the media. The question is: is the crazy media making us crazy?

On the death buffet:

I'd also like to comment on the death buffet that is today's prime time television programming:

Why so many demons and dead bodies, Aaron Spelling? Think about the shows on at prime time--CSI x 3ish, Law & Order x 3ish, Supernatural, the Collector, etc, etc. The theme of death hangs over them like a rotting black cloak on a bloated corpse. (ha...made myself laugh there...)

If it's not a show explicitly focused on death, it's UNREALITY television pushing us into some bizarre world where the goal is to become rich and famous...or suffer death-like elimination. Those are our options today, in the world according to television: fame or annihilation.

On the worship of virgins:

Of course, I am a hypocrite. My rants are based mostly on stuff I watch on t.v. or read (voraciously) in the online media. But let's sidestep any role I may play in my own frustration, and move right into my third topic: namely, why there are people, at this very moment, pinning their self-worth on their ability to ignore their bodily functions (probably without success).

I'm talking about the virginity movement that is going on in the States, and probably here in Canada too. This is the movement where people--mostly teenagers--are going around wearing 'chastity rings' and preaching to other kids, in a disturbing evangelical kind of way, about why their bodies are hotbeds of evil.

Before you get all up in arms--yeah, I'm talkin ta you--I don't have an issue with someone making a choice not to have sex outside of marriage. That's their free choice. Actually, my problem is with the conflation of chastity and virginity and so-called 'purity', and the implication that people who, well, basically, engage in their bodies' desire for pleasure, are going to end up as demon extras on The Collector.

Speaking of time travel...One of the more disturbing aspects of this whole trend is the "ring ceremony."

From what I understand, the ring ceremony often consists of a daddy giving the ring to his little girl to wear until her wedding day. On her wedding day, she hands the ring over to her husband, the new and rightful owner of her delicate sexual flower. Take the ring, enlarge it twenty-fold, wrap it around her nether-regions, and lock it with a key, and we've walked ourselves right back to 1382.

This would be funny...
"... teens are putting purity rings on their Christmas wish lists, even above iPods." (stomach...aching...laughing...too...hard....)

If the whole thing weren't so scary...
"Ring ceremonies, once modest affairs held in people's homes or in churches, now sometimes involve hundreds of participants and laser light shows interspersed with talk of pregnancy and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases." (NY Times, of course)

Another disturbing aspect: this whole 'abstinence is your only option' movement? Being partially funded the Bush administration:

"In May, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the federal government, challenging the legality of granting more than $1 million since 2003 to the Silver Ring Thing, which the A.C.L.U. has called an ''overtly religious abstinence-only program.''"

(Pan to image: George Bush, grotesque smirk on face, holding the master key to millions of American girls' chastity belts...swings key rogueishly on its chain...)

You may think, so what? This doesn't affect me or anyone I know, because I only associate with people of loose moral standards. But these Silver Ring Thing guys want to have 20% of the WORLD'S youth make chastity pledges by 2014. They have long-term goals, people...

Here's a final thought from some 16 year-old kid in Pennysylvania:
''It's a good tool to help you explain your decision and a reminder to you to remain pure,'' said Jonathan Wagner, 16, of Wexford, Pa., who wears a purity ring." Translation: 'maybe the painful diamond studs on this ring will stop those tingly urges that hit me twenty times a day.'

I feel for the kids. I don't think wanton sex is good for anyone, let alone still-forming human beings. But placing so much emphasis on purity is, basically, setting yourself up for miserable failure. Because the more you try to ignore that itch, the more obsessed you become with scratching it.

RANT over.


Blogger Gizzy said...

All I can say is...

WOW! That is an excellent piece of work, whyioughtta!


10:45 AM  
Blogger bobbysan said...

I laugh!! Let me first say that it is true I have loose morals. That's quite ironic from the way I was brought up...very tight. Seems the latter just breeds the opposite behavior doesn't it?

So this is who we are and what makes it so fun...especially weekend nights up in the woods, in a basement where no one can find us!!

Contraversy - is a very effective media tool, one that governments have always used to forward their influence. Instilling fear via the media is merely propoganda that fuels contraversy on something that doesn't really exist.

11:56 AM  
Blogger bobbysan said...

Ohyes, I must say that I've always been let down by a movie based upon a book that I've read. There was a similar review in the Globe & Mail today on the Da Vinci Code - a real snore. Let's keep it fresh people!

11:59 AM  
Blogger jackp said...

All i can say is...

i went to a catholic school...loosest girls around...

known fact...

12:53 PM  
Blogger jackp said...

...and really...

you've got your doers...and your talkers....the 'machine' keeps the talkers juiced...and the talkers keep the 'machine' juiced...

better to live a natural life and not obsess about 'feelin' good' and how we shouldn't 'feel good'...

moderation is the answer to EVERTTHING...

i was at some work thing...someone was talking about what are morals you live by... I answered 'sex, drugs and rock and roll'...she didn't think it was funny... But..i was being serious.... do those 3 in moderation...and you're got a full life...body, mind and soul...

12:57 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

There is a disturbing wisdom in that, jackp. Brilliant.

2:35 PM  
Blogger jackp said...

thx...i have no eloquency...

is that a word?

9:49 PM  
Blogger Ann-imal said...

And in comes my two cents...

Is it possible that 20% of the World's youth are just so darn ugly that they are never going to get laid ANYWAY and that this is a way for their parents to make them feel better - like they have a purpose in life?

Yes, a shallow comment, but one to think about (I kill me!)

4:36 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

good point, ann-imal. and chastity rings are so much cheaper than plastic surgery.

5:13 PM  

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