Call it what you will, tv show creators are constantly stretching the boundaries of what society will accept and even enjoy. Some of you are thinking that this is going to be a moral rant, which it is, but it’s more than that. It’s an evaluation of pop culture’s obvious decline.

Producers have at least some idea of what the people want. They know that shows challenging the intellect are doomed to flop, so they stick with what sells: sensationalism. I’m referring to that which is sensational, makes you blink or catch your breath, entices you, scares you, and so on. Today’s programs feed off of your emotions, off of your desires. The problem is that desire is fickle. It’s not an objective, logical, or intelligent thing. No, far from it.

What was surprising and scary and sensational and provocative yesterday is less surprising today. People absorb all these images, sounds, stories, and ideas and they want to be thrilled again and again. That’s what it is. One way or another, people want to be thrilled. But you do the same thing over and over, and they’re not thrilled anymore. They’ve seen and heard and felt that before too many times. You’ve gotta push further to keep it on the edge, to show them what they haven’t seen before, to thrill them with something new.

So you’ve got 3 CSIs, NCIS, House MD, The Badge, Criminal Minds, Crossing Jordan, South Beach, Desperate Housewives, Without a Trace, Ghost Whisperer, Bones, Boston Legal, and other shows i don’t even know about. Every single show i just mentioned has pushed the boundaries of blood and gore, sexual content, graphic violence, brutality, and provocative language.

Look at the number of shows that picture corpses entrails. Look at the anatomically correct body parts strewn across floors and tables. Watch the crime reenactments where you can see people brutally beaten or attacked. Look at how dark and realistic the meth labs, the prostitutes, and the criminal world is portrayed. Look at what it takes to make a show successful today…

This is our popular culture. Statistics show that we are barely in the top 20 most intelligent nations. I believe it. We don’t even stop to think about what we’re pushing ourselves towards. We have the choice of what to do with our time. i remember a time when people didn’t need to be accessible by phone, fax, or email 24/7.

Here’s a homework assignment for all you youngsters (you qualify if you figured out how to get here):

Watch a few different shows from 5 years ago. Then watch a few from 10 years ago. Then 15. Then 20. Know what you’ll notice? More dialogue, more wit, somewhat fewer cliches, and practically no brutal violence or visible sexual content.

Am i a 60s buff with a chip on his shoulder? Hardly. Pop culture has been transformed from sugar-coated daydreams to dysfunctional family to sadistic, brutal fantasy.

Does that sound like the progress of an ever-evolving society to you? Sounds to me like a country that missed the reality bus and wandered into hell.

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