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Blaming TV Networks: Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

Stupid TV shows gave us a stupid president
A Menu for Dumbing-Down America

Something not getting a lot of press or discussion, lately, is how much the entertainment industry is culpable, in steering the populace towards electing an inept, corrupt conman, to the highest office of this country.

Several years ago, cable television networks noticed how much America loves a good, dumb reality show.  This is a genre of show, that portrays the dumbest of the dumb among us.  It started in the city, with shows like “Keeping up with the Kardashian’s” and “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”.   The advent of this type of television show, speeded up our decline, from being a society that holds thinking to a high standard, to one that sneers ‘elitist’ at those who ponder.

Instead of showing Americans living a smart, productive, and thoughtful life, these newest television shows, especially the so-called “reality” shows, depict people being idiots. And, what is worse, they show people being held up and made famous, because of being stupid. It gives us a very low bar to aspire to, and helps disenfranchise the institutions of knowledge, honor and morality.

As these shows moved out of the cities, and into the country, it did not get any better.  Dubbed by many as redneck reality shows, here is but a partial list of the low quality programming that many have become addicted to:

“Duck Dynasty”
“Country Bucks”
“Swamp People”
“American Hoggers”
“Cajun Justice”
“Honey Boo Boo”
“Dog the Bounty Hunter”
“Billy the Exterminator”
“Hillbilly Handfishin’”
“Buckwild”
“Mud Lovin’ Rednecks”

The New York Times published an interactive map, that shows the divide in the U.S., as to who watches “Duck Dynasty” and who watches “Modern Family” (a TV show that celebrates diversity, blended families, alternative life styles, educated people).  It is incredibly interesting how the patterns follow the lines between who voted for Trump and who did not.   You can find the map and article here.

Why Do They Love It?

What is the huge draw, of this kind of junk tv, for people, who watch show after show? Shows that basically depict people doing stuff that is stupid, or making stupid mistakes or is actually just fake?  Is it because it makes low-educated people feel smarter?  Like, “I’m glad I am smarter than that”, which leads them to feel smart?  The viewers often remark how funny they think these shows can be, at times.  The funny parts are when some dim-witted pseudo-star does something foolish.

It is a form of slapstick comedy, maybe, but it is being peddled as reality.  These shows also have the family member or main character, that is smarter than the rest. However, those people are carefully chosen, to show just enough smarts to be above the rest, but are still about as bright as Alaska in December.  The reason is that the networks cooking these shows up, know that the viewers need to feel smarter that the main show characters, but not too much.  The goal is for the viewers to relate to the characters, because that is the hook that keeps reeling them in.

Of interest to note, on the New York Times map, is Alaska.  When it is showing watchers of “Duck Dynasty”, Alaska lights up over the arctic region.  While this may puzzle some, it really makes perfect sense.  Much of the non-native population in that area are people that are connected to the oil industry and originally harken from redneck country.  Speaking of Alaska, there is another aspect of our poor TV diet choices, that has had a detrimental effect on our thinking skills. That aspect focuses on the people that think the dream is to live “off the grid”. The networks, in their money-seeking wisdom, have seen this fixation and are running hard with it.

The number of reality shows staged in Alaska has grown by leaps and bounds.  This list includes, to name a few,” Alaska, the Last Frontier”, “ Alaska Bush People”, “Wild West Alaska”, “Deadliest Catch”, “Ice Road Truckers”, “Edge of Alaska”, Sarah Palin’s Alaska and the list goes on and on. The fact that Alaska is the penultimate dream of so many people, who have the pro-Trump mindset. .

Being unhappy in their own current reality, they are drawn to the dream of being tough survivalists, living miles away from the rest of humanity. They think that is the solution to tough times, in a tough world.  Reject the rest of humanity and live independently, and they would be happy, they think, in their daydreams.  The sad fact is, they would not really be happy, in that life.  For one thing, they might have a hard time living where there is no TV or cell service, and that is just the beginning of the reality of living in Alaska.  Yes, there is television and cell service in the major sized cities and towns and even piped out to some of the Bush towns, but, once you are about 20 miles out from any of those, forget it.

Basic fact:  The reality of living in Alaska is nothing like the Alaska reality shows, because the shows are fake, anyway.  They are staged, they are exaggerated, and the situations depicted are totally bogus.  The best example is of the dim-bulb family on Alaskan Bush People.  There is not a single thing that is real about that show.  The family lives in the local motel, in the nearest town, Hoonah.  They do not live or stay in any of their various encampments out  in the woods.  In other words, the show is as fake as “Once Upon a Time”.

TV networks were not the only entertainment route that facilitated the election of Donald Trump.  The take-over, in our lives, of video gaming, also had a huge impact.  For video gamers, who invest much of their lives, experientially, in virtual reality worlds, there may be a disconnect or there may also be a brainwashing that authors of games intended.  Because takes us down a warren of rat tunnels, it will be saved for another article.

The question is, where do we go from here?  America consists of a large segment of population that does not want to live in a world, where there is real reality.  They prefer their fake reality and ‘alternate facts’. They are inundated with alternate realities, on the internet, to what they watch on TV, to what they read in their tabloid news sources, to the movies they see and the games they play.  A big chunk of the American population does not even know what they do not know.  These are the people that voted Donald Trump in.  They would argue it, because they think they are smart.  And the way they argue, is their ‘tell’.  They attack, using derogatory name-calling, inadequacy taunts, and dismissive statements.  This is what makes them feel intellectually superior, rather than real knowledge, logic and clear thinking skills.

One of the saddest aspects of this dumbing down of TV,  is that it’s being done by the cable channel networks that originally billed themselves as the more high-minded choice.  They called themselves educational channels, once.  The Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Science Channel, etc., are owned by one network, Discovery Communications.  The History Channel is owned by A&E networks, which also owns A&E and a few other channels.  The slide into the muck and the swamp has been slow, but insidious.

Americans really need to wake up and see what they are feeding their brains. Garbage in, garbage out, people.  Part of the anti-Trump movement may eventually involve taking it to the networks, with protests and petitions.  It would be wonderful if, with or without the Movement’s help, these networks became a little more ethical and upstanding about content and a little less about the all-mighty numbers.

It would be nice if quality became an American virtue again.  Quality has all but disappeared in America.  Nobody want to build a better mousetrap anymore.  They want to build a cheaper one, with low-quality materials and slave-level labor, and they don’t care if the trap works especially well.  Because their marketing (propaganda) campaign will cover up the problems.

Here are two other recommended articles on this subject, if you want to read more:

How Reality Television Elected Donald Trump by Susan L.M. Goldberg, November, 2016

The Unreal Rise of Reality TV” by Michael Rose, 2013

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