I’m thinking about a whole growing genre of television show. There’s already, I think, enough shows to support a cable chanel. Heck, the History Channel has pretty much given up on potraying actual history in favor of this new(ish) idea.
The idea? Watching people buy crap. Or sell crap. Or trade crap.
You know the shows. They focus on pawn shops. Or pickers. Or restore-ers. Or barter-ers. Or auctioneers.
I won’t deny the appeal. Once in a while I watch them. It was while watching one that I had this realization.
We have sunk so low as a society.
I think the forces of greed and our buying obsession are highly destructive forces. In some sense, it’s probably better for our wallets and our collective economy that we are getting our purchasing thrills vicariously. But the thing is, it’s kind of pathetic, too. We’ve become so programmed to salivate at the idea of buying something that like good Pavlov’s dogs, we now salivate when others are buying things.
And equally sad? We’re taking another step in the wrong direction, away from the heroic existence we were meant for. It was a tragic thing when we decided epic adventure is merely for the person on our television. But now? Even our heroes are not heroic. It’s not that they are doing things we fear we couldn’t do. It’s that they are doing stuff that we are mostly too lazy to do.
These capitalistic reality shows are only part of a wider context. Modern horrror movies are another place to watch the disingration of our view of what a hero should be. Now, the heroes in these movies best hope is simply to endure. Nearly always these films become contests of endurance, not bravery. In horror movies, the question isn’t: “What can you rise above?” It’s become “What can you suffer through?”
Similarly, these television shows don’t ask the question “What can you do?” They ask, “What can you buy?”
This doesn’t seem good.