Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fatten the people and entertain them.

Not able to sleep, I'm playing Bubblet, mindlessly clicking on colored spheres; this is a nightly routine to help me gear down in preparation for sleep. I have the tv on, listening to the "Gladiators: Blood Sport" episode of Cities of the Underworld on the History Channel. It appears that the ancient politicians of Rome, in an effort to keep revolt of the people to a minimum, would appease its citizens by offering not only the bloody "entertainment" in venues such as the Coliseum, but also gave away free wheat. An archaeologist explained to the show's host that this served to propitiate the people of Rome, to keep them in control. She spoke a phrase, then translated it as, "Fatten the people and keep them entertained."

Some things never change. For quite some time now, I've been sorely disillusioned by the overabundance of insipid banality on tv. We're offered titillating tales of Paris Hilton's love life and the tragic train wreck of a life as lived by Britney Spears. On how many channels and numerous times of day are we able to watch "Deal or No Deal", with all the pretty lights and captivating sounds, Howie Mandel as big as life and as gregarious as any family member from the wall-to-wall tv screens in Fahrenheit 451? Naughty housewives and schemes for dirty, sexy money. Should the fact that we're smarter than a fifth-grader make us feel good about ourselves? It just all feels like such a smoke screen to me, a magician's sleight of hand to keep our attention from what's really going on. The war. Global warming and a planet in peril. Politicians who have never been a loyal servant of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

While we're watching such quality programming...would you like fries with that? And why stop at one burger when you can get another for only 39 cents more? Try the super combo meal. You can always work it off by playing tennis or 18 holes of golf on the Wii in your living room. Whatever happened to going outside to play, even as an adult? Technology is a wonderful thing, but it's no substitute for biking or hiking a trail through a forest...or even the perimeter of a local park. Did you know that P.E. has disappeared in many educational institutions? But that's okay, because I've seen commercials for the "minimally invasive" bands that surgeons can place around your stomach...we don't need to be responsible for our weight because we now have doctors who can do that for us.

Maybe I'm nostalgic for the time when an American education was something to be proud of. For the day when kids were safe (and more fit) on the local playground. For a time when we didn't have to work 16 hours a day to earn a living, leaving time only for a fast food meal vice one that is healthy and less expensive, cooked at home. For an age where PSAs ran on tv urging us to "Keep America Beautiful", and reminding us that "It's nice to share" (it truly ooly ooly is). Nostalgic for the era when we weren't being led down the path to "Fat, dumb, and happy". How have we, as a nation, allowed this to happen? And why? Have we been that blind, or have The Powers That Be just been so subtle at fattening and entertaining us that we just haven't noticed the changes until we've become like the humanoids in Wall-E, spoiled by our superstores, megameals, and media that does all of our thinking for us, so we don't have to?

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." ~George Santayana

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use." ~Galileo Galilei

"Go outside and play. Or read a book. And, no, you can't have another cookie...you'll ruin your dinner. " ~Mom

1 comment:

Gary said...

Back when water was free and didn't come in a bottle. ~Louis Black~