On One Hand

April 9, 2005

My Soapbox

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:02 am
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I like everybody. Well, I like everybody as a person, for the most part, but there are many who I do not like as figures in daytime (and primetime) trash TV. They range from “journalists” on fake “news” magazines like Dateline, to politicians I see occasionally quoted on various programs. I thought I’d point out a few of these people, because my mono has put me on the couch and I have therefore been watching a lot of TV.

1. John Stossel. Why: He’s inspired by individual rights, which I like. But he’s cocky, self-righteous, and a ruthless ideologue. He doesn’t understand that when corporations levy paradigmatic control over the supply-side of the economy (as in, an average person absolutely cannot become a capital holder without being a part of the employee system, and I’m sorry to use such archaic terms), corporations on a whole come to wield government-like power. Stossel’s argument is that a person “chooses” to work for his or her employer, and if an individual disagrees with his or her employer, he can “choose” to work somewhere else. He actually believes that it’s OK for an employer to fire employees who smoke, because employees don’t “own” their jobs and can leave them. Similarly, companies don’t need to offer benefits because an employee can move to someone who does. But in our society, more and more corporations are behaving more and more like one another, making this so-called “choice” little more than an illusion. Is working for Pepsi really that different than working for Coke?

2. Bush. Why: Duh, the reasons to hate this guy are more numerous than fir trees in Alaska. He won’t admit when he’s wrong, he puts countless lives in danger on a whim, his understanding of science is thinner than a DNA strand, and his social prejudices are grossly visible behind his bull-headed decisions. Currently, our debt economy is shifting the “risk” present in any economic system from big corporations and government (i.e. benefits and social safety net) to individuals. Prime example: Bush’s social security plan. His “ownership society” intends to let individuals “own” their own risks. The result: those who can’t absorb their financial misfortunes are screwed. I’d like to see a well-rounded, non-ideological, person well-educated in both economics AND sociology, who is middle-class and doesn’t believe he or she will someday be rich (not a grad student), offer an argument for Bush’s Social Security plan.

3. Judge Judy (and other TV judges). Why: My God, I have never seen people make more inferences and accusations from less evidence. “I think you’re lying! Judgment to the plaintiff!” I can’t believe they let half of these people on the bench.

4. Oprah. Why: Okay I actually LIKE Oprah. I mean, I think she is a good person who does a lot of positive work with her show, but I think her message has “drifted” over the years, as happens to many celebrities after they become rich. She used to tackle a lot of social issues from a very progressive perspective, and was sensitive to the needs of traditionalists as well. She is an eloquent and wide-reaching communicator. She does a lot for black people and women. But her message seems to be, more and more, “it’s great to be rich.” I’ve got news for Oprah: most of her audience is not rich. Most of her audience stands no chance of becoming rich. The mass desire to become rich, despite the impossibility of masses of people becoming rich (the result would be inflation, which is why I think economic conservatives like to reinforce stratification), is the biggest source of stress and inadequacy in our society, and also its biggest lie. At the core of the problem is hyper-competition, because we all think we can make it if we try a little harder, work a few more hours, neglect our families just a little bit more. (DANGEROUS TRUTH: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE A BILLIONAIRE SOMEDAY!) I’m sorry that you were told that being rich is the most important goal in life. It isn’t; it won’t make you happy. I know the response line to this: there go those liberals whining about how people “feel” all the time (this is getting off topic, since I doubt Oprah would use this argument). To them, government shouldn’t touch such things as “feelings.” what matters is life, death, and economic productivity. Well, how we “feel” is the deepest and most intrinsic part of ourselves. Life is good when we feel good, and life is bad when we feel bad. No amount of economic prosperity means anything to a person who is clinically depressed. Economic despair is alternately not a problem for someone who can remain happy (and above water) with less. What we need is to foster a society that favors the second option, for those who don’t want to play the cutthroat game. My analysis is that Oprah doesn’t help. My conclusion: Oprah’s materialism is BAD for America.

5. Anyone who talks about Michael Jackson, or any other sex offender. To borrow an idea from my boyfriend, those who repeatedly address sex in the media are part of a strange irony. I would like to use Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as a perfect example, acknowledging that the show is fictional. You see, though we are taught by Montel and Dr. Phill that illicit forms of sex are wrong, that children should not be having sex, that 1 on 1 monogamy is the only form of healthy sexual relationship, and that many forms of sex are deviant and absolutely wrong, we are titillated and tempted with the most awful forms of sex all the time. Special Victims Unit is enjoyed by the prude and the licentious alike, as a show that is permissible because it doesn’t “condone” or “show” anything like premarital sex, rape, or pedophilia. But we are still guided to imagine the acts in graphic detail, as being committed by “bad” people who we thinly distance from ourselves under the criminal label. What purpose can a show entirely devoted to sex crimes have but to titillate? Why not produce a show about murder and theft with the occasional sex crime? A program exclusively about sex captures our minds better, so network fiction is riddled with it. As is most of the news: Bill Clinton coverage, Michael Jackson coverage, Kobe Bryant coverage, the daily rapes and stalkings, weekly specials on same-sex relationships, and periodic specials on the molestation of some strange suburban white girl all fit the mold of veiled sex on TV. Constantly we watch married couples complain of having bad sex or no sex on talk shows that are considered wholesome and constructive. We are titillated constantly, but surprised when “bad” sex shows up in the real world, and blame our childrens’ sexual activity on MTV.

To clarify, I am a very sex-positive person. I don’t think sex in the media is bad; I’m much more concerned with our nation’s terrible news coverage, which happens to use sex crimes as one of its distractions from important global news. I do think that keeping sex “under the covers,” so to speak, is bad for all of us. We might as well come right out and admit what’s going on.

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6 Comments »

  1. Wow, so pretty, and brainy too. By the way, will you marry me?

    Comment by thefrescakid — April 9, 2005 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

    • I’d have to see how my boyfriend feels about marrying outside the relationship.

      Comment by ononehand — April 10, 2005 @ 6:44 am | Reply

      • I’m prepared to be flexible on the issue.

        Comment by thefrescakid — April 10, 2005 @ 6:46 am

  2. bush makes my head hurt…he seriously gives me migranes

    Comment by twistedshroom — April 9, 2005 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

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