Ok, I have so many problems with this article, I don't even know where to begin. So instead of subjecting you all to an infinitely long series of my twisty sentences, I'm just going to take on the one thing it does that I hate perhaps most of anything in the world. That is, the habit of "media types" (you know who you are) to take *everything* pop culture gives them totally at face value. That is, the "turn on TV, turn off brain" attitude.
Holston, in this article, mentions the relatively new show "Malcolm in the Middle" as another example of the glorification of stupidity in American culture, aimed at the Impressionable Youth. However, this anlysis is based totally on the surface appearance of the show, to the point where I don't even get how you could come up with this idea, unless all you'd ever watched were the promo spots (that air endlessly on FOX).
Consider the supposedly "freakiest" character on the show. Malcolm's friend (who's name I unfortunately can't recall). He is the *ultimate* downtrodden loser, by all appearances. Let's check them off, shall we? He's:
So there you have it, right? Recipe for dorkdom. But surprise! Watch the show, and pay attention (even minimal, glancing attention will do), and two shows out of three, this kids the hero. He's way smarter and more observant than Malcolm, he understands what's going on, and he knows exactly how to come out on top of a situation. He is, and the show makes this obvious, what we should want to be.
- Crippled (wheelchair-bound)
- So asthmatic he can't say four words in a row
- A total braniac dexter
Basically, the show's about how bass-ackward America is in it's perceived values. I.e., it's point is basically that the way Noel Holston sees us is how people keep telling us we think we are, but that we're not like that at all. How can we be so backward if virtually every freaking show is about how backward we think we are? Look at the Simpsons. A goofy cartoon about this loser family right? You have to have three years of film school (or equivalent childhood pop-culture immersion) to even get that show. And this is what we watch as standard tv-dinner fare.
I for one don't think there is a problem with our values, any more than there's ever been. I think the problem is with what we think and claim "our" values are. Whenever anybody talks about "American values" that I hear, they always seem to be talking about other people's American values.
Well, for Noel Holston, and all the other writers out there who are guilty of the same cheap cop-out, I have a suggestion. Stop talking about "our" (other people's) values, and start talking about your own. If enough people say what their values are, personally, maybe then we can start to evaluate what they might all add up to.
Not the real rusty