Herbert London writes in The Washington Times, in a column entitled “Dumb, dumber, dumbest“, that America is going through a revolution in “dumbing down” via the moronic TV shows a lot of us watch.
A lot of people have written that the high ratings that can be garnered by shows like Paris Hilton’s, Anna Nicole Smith’s, Ozzy’s, et al, offers proof positive that we as a television audience are getting dumber.
Whenever I hear people talking about how sad it is that shows like these get high ratings, I must disagree. If severe emotional trauma cases like Smith and Osbourne were an example of run-of-the-mill behavior, the ratings going in would be dismal. Nobody wants to watch a show about “regular” people, for the same reason nobody on the highway slows down and gawks at a car and driver that are functioning normally.
The time to worry is when these shows get poor ratings right out of the gate, for it will mean that the behavior featured therein has become the norm. When and if that happens, then it will be time to start worrying.
As London points out in his column, we’ve always liked things that are stupid… The Three Stooges, etc. But it’s never been based in reality, until recently.
Perhaps a better explanation is that, in today’s “self esteem is of utmost importance” society, it makes us feel better about ourselves to see that there are people dumber than we are. Like Rodney Dangerfield said, “If you want to look thin, hang out with fat people.”
We can find those “fat people” every day on our televisions.
(I won’t point out to viewers who watch morons to raise their self esteem that most of those “morons” make more money in a month than most of us do in ten years. That could damage the self esteem…so I didn’t just say that.)