I’m not one for mocking and cruelly kidding around with people. Sarcasm has been misunderstood and misinterpreted too many times by well-intentioned people who then land in large vats of trouble dealing with the aftereffects of a failed sense of humor. When we think of valuable entertainment, the Golden Years of Hollywood are often a common touchstone: 1939. The MGM Musicals. The world was glorious and ripe beyond our homes and into our dreams and we could not be stopped as a nation after risking ruin, but ultimately winning, World War II.
The 1960s in the USA led to disillusionment in the government of ourselves and we revolted against the status quo. The war cry on many liberal college campuses was, “Kill Your Parents!” — and we were never the same again — even as the tame, and temperate late 1970s eschewed our former moral greatness as a nation.
The 1980s and 90s gave rise to satire-as-entertainment and late night television shows led the spiking of the American dream with a new, urban, reality that stung more than it soothed. Instead of creating great entertainment pieces for the stage and screen, many writers began to mock the common values of the 1950’s — suggesting the post-war populism was a farce in need of betrayal because it was all a ruse and a shadow behind the sun.
That sort of negativity in entertainment is labeled today as “comedy” or “satire” or even “social commentary” — but I call the new immorality in our entertainment streams a sickening attack on human values that are now perilously tangled in political and religious tendrils.
Shows like South Park and The Simpsons and Family Guy and Saturday Night Live on television and The Book of Mormon on Broadway — a mocking of a religion that would never be allowed the profit of a live stage if Sharia or the Talmud were the topic — are all examples of cynicism masquerading as comedy. Watching those shows alone would gather one into such a tremendous despair against the future of humanity that death would be the only pleasurable way out. Getting all the “digs” and “in-jokes” doesn’t make funny. It only makes disgusting.
Speaking of disgusting, did you know that three hours ago, NBC pulled the Fear Factor episode scheduled to air tonight where contestants were expected to drink donkey semen and urine? I know gross always tries to be funny — but it never works:
NBC won’t air the questionable “Fear Factor” episode featuring a stunt that required contestants to drink the bodily fluid — with a glass of urine as a chaser — originally slated for Monday night, TMZ.com reported.
An network website now lists a rerun of the reality competition show in place of the episode “Hee Haw! Hee Haw!,” according to the gossip site, which broke the original story about the tasteless taste test on Friday night. Promos for the new episode had also been taken down from the Internet.
Pulling the Donkey Semen episode is the right thing to do — but I want to know how drinking donkey semen got so far as to be scheduled on broadcast television tonight? That idea should’ve been laughed off in the wondering stage. It never should have been approved or shot or edited or even forced upon contestants for money. What is wrong with these people?
I fear the only way to reset our national sense of satire-as-entertainment-entitlement is through a thorough reckoning of expectation. We need to be crumbled back to zero before we can ever begin to build up the proper morality again in our shared cultural cues and I don’t know if regaining that unsophisticated innocence can happen in any other way other than complete Armageddon.