Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ramblings for the Morning (7/11/2007)

Haven't done this in a while, so I figured I should bring it back.
So, without further ado: OMICRON!
Fred Rogers Ruined Your Life:
Ok, before we get started, go and watch
this video. Done? Ok. Now I'm not going to get all angry and shout from the mountain tops, but there are two major issues I see here:

1. Morning News Shows: It's not just Fox and Friends. Most of the morning shows out there are way too long and have very little content. Yes, there should be a news show in the morning that gives information, because information is power. However, on average these shows are three hours long and have maybe 30 minutes of actual news. The result is a a weird amalgam that's hard to watch.

"...and so the final toll is 30 dead and 64 injured."
"Oh, that's so terrible...coming up next we'll look at common household items you can use to make a Halloween costume for your cat or dog." This is then followed by some horrible fake laugh.

It's nothing new. All morning shows are completely devoid of true intellectual content. They are designed for you to be able to listen to while doing other things. Truly deep thought would require concentration, and that's not what they want. Why? Because you might then question what they are saying.

The problem I have, however, is not really with these shows. The problem is....

2. Where the Blame Lies: It is not the fault of Fred Rogers, Big Bird, and Dr. Spock that kids and younger adults today have narcissism issues. That kind of thinking lets parents and society off the hook. Can you imagine how people will use this?
"Well, sir, Mr. Rogers said I was special no matter what, so it shouldn't matter that I bombed the presentation."
"You can't be mad at me, mom, Big Bird made learning entertaining, but Mr. Smith is boring, so that's why my grades are bad."
"Your honor, my client did rob the liquor store, but his parents listened to Dr. Spock, so Mr. Smith here was not disciplined like most children. Therefore, he cannot be considered guilty of this crime."

It is, for lack of a better term, rubbish.

If you watch the clip from Fox and Friends, you can see that they make fun of the survey at first, but after the break, they suddenly take it seriously. They even ask, later on in the broadcast, a doctor about her opinions. Instead of calling it rubbish, she says, "Well, it didn't hurt anyone really," and she pauses for a second and then rushes in, "But it didn't help either."

Look, here are the biggest two factors to the problem:
1. Parents. Too many parents want to be friends with their kids instead of being their authority figures.
Look, people. Hang up your cell phones, stop dressing like your kids (for God's sake, you're in your forties and your kids are teenagers. Take off those clothes and dress like an adult), and start telling them, "No." I am so sick and tired of parents trying to rationalize a discussion about certain topics.
"Well, I didn't want her to stay out until 1, but we talked about it and she told me I was being unfair, so I let her stay out."
Just say, "No."
I mean the absolute worst I have ever heard was a parent wanting his child to think he was cool, so he got his own kid a fake ID so the kid could go buy alcohol. Of course the dad also said he enjoyed helping, because he had someone else to drink with at the bar.

If you don't show these kids that there are boundaries, then they will never stop.
Too many parents are afraid to take a stand because then Little Jimmy or Janet will say, "I hate you."
Again...get over it. Teach these kids what Copernicus knew: the world revolves around the sun...not you.
Be a parent. Yes, you must give up time from your life, but that's what happens when you're a parent. Deal with it.
However, you are not alone in your blame. The blame also falls on...

2. Society. I am guilty of this as well, but our modern technology is primarily self-centered. MySpace, blogs, Facebook, Twitter. They are all about the person writing. Look at what I am thinking today, look at what I am watching, etc. MySpace asks you to put all this information about yourself out there for people to see. It's all about, "ME."
Beyond that, however, look at our TV shows. If you're a sports fan, the number one show worldwide is ESPN's Sportscenter. What highlights do you usually get on this show? Is it a baseball player laying down a perfect bunt to move a player to third base? No. It's the guys hitting home runs, striking out batters, and making shoestring catches. The guys who do the fundamentals are forgotten.
How about pro football? Celebrate the Offensive Linemen? No, we get the touchdowns, the interceptions, and the big hits.
The worst, however, is basketball. It's all about dunks. That's why people who watch and want to play don't care about the jump shot anymore. They care about the dunk. It's totally a me-first attitude.
The final problem is that of the adults themselves. We are all guilty of not truly being adults. Too many people who are in their thirties and forties try to rationalize ways to act like teenagers. There is a very strange fear among people my age and slightly older about being called old. When we're young, we all want to get older faster, but once we do, we freak and want to be young again. Personally, I don't need to go get drunk every weekend. Do I own a video game system? Yes, do I play it everyday? No.
So, these kids and younger adults look to us, and we act like children, so why shouldn't they?

It will get worse. People will become more and more self-centered, but it is not the fault of a man like Fred Rogers, who only wanted to help us learn, nor is it the fault of Big Bird or Dr. Spock. I learned how to count to 12 through the song that was on Sesame Street. The one with the pinball. I didn't even know I was learning.
We are guilty of hubris, but anyone who thinks that because we're told to think we're special is the reason we're so egotistical is trying to hide from the real reasons.
Short Lived Death:
The NAACP held a funeral the other day for the "N" word. While I think that this is a wonderful thing, as the word is derogatory, I believe it will not work and will be short lived. Why? Because the word has been assimilated into culture. Kanye West, Diddy, Denzel Washington, Little Kim, or Cedric the Entertainer could all come out and say, "Don't use the word," but it won't matter if even one popular artist uses it.

I was in downtown Minneapolis on Monday, and I was walking down Hennepin behind two African-American men who were discussing the funeral and its implications. After guy #1 talks about how wonderful it is, guy #2 turns to him and says (and I am direct quoting here, so not talk of me being racist now):
"Nigger please. It is about time."

I discussed this with a colleague of mine (who happens to be black), and he said that while a great symbolic gesture, he thinks it won't work either.
"The NAACP is assuming that kids and adults will actually pay attention to the news about this and take it seriously. Most won't."

Now I like getting rid of the word, but I have to ask: what happens to Huck Finn? Is he just "Jim" from now on?

I hope this sticks, but only time will tell.

And finally:
Vermont is About to Make Some D'oh:
So Springfield,
Vermont is going to be the home of The Simpsons. Good for them. It's a little strange (and I was sure that Massachusetts would win). Still, the contest video (which included a giant, pink donut rolling away) was funny.

The question is will this make money for the town? Will people come there solely to see the "home of Homer Simpson" and such?

Will Arlen, Texas embrace Hank Hill from King of the Hill? That could be interesting.

Anyway, congratulations Vermont. Use the money wisely.

Then again what do I know? I live in a state where no one really wants to shoot a movie. I could be wrong.


Arthur Willoughby said...

The N-word and the perceived shamefulness of education are the two biggest blows ever delivered to the black community.

The language I hear from young African-American men on the bus and on the street saddens and sickens me. Mother F-er is a noun, verb, adjective and adverb.

Of course, it's not specific to the black community. Everyone is hopping on the bandwagon. Let's all sound as ignorant as humanly possible. It'll be fun.

'Til we need a job, of course.


Laura said...

I'm just going to say this outright, without backing it up with logic because you have already done that: Mr. Rogers is not the cause of my generation's narcissism. We're a generation that has had everything given to us (not just be TV personalities).

And plenty of movies have been made in our state... they just have to do with hockey A LOT of the time.

Arthur Willoughby said...

Leab, I have a theory about our generation (and later).

I think that Baby Boomers, much as generations before them, vowed that their children would have it better than they did.

Problem is, things were pretty good for them. That was about the time we started our consumer-driven culture. How do you give your kid more than you had...if you had everything?

So I think they moved from material possessions to the way they raised them. "My parents were strict with me and made me follow rules, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let my kid grow up under such circumstances."

So they let their kids run wild, never stopping for a moment to realize that their parents' strict nature is what turned most of them into productive, respectful members of a civilized society.

Now, as Laura rightly pointed out, we have everything...but we're losing any sense of decorum and self-control, therefore our material possessions mean nothing, and our very existence is beginning to mean nothing as well.

I can't tell you how many 20-somethings I've endured at college bemoaning the horror of their lives. "What's the point?" they lament, in-between text-messaging on their Blackberries, fielding a cell phone call and surfing the Internet on their laptop.

I don't know where I stand religiously these days, but I can say that growing up believing their was something Greater than myself out there was very instrumental in making me who/what I am today. We seem to have a generation of folks out there who have no purpose in life, yet they're only looking in the mirror. They're not looking outward and realizing there are a few billion other people in this world who might benefit from their embarrassment of riches.

That's just my rambling opinion. What do I know?

Arthur Willoughby said...

There, not their. Dammit, see what happens when you don't proorfead?

Cat said...

I have to agree that people such as Big Bird and Mr Rogers did not mess us up. I (as much as I do not want to)actually agree with Arthur on this. "How do you give your kid more than you had...if you had everything?" as Arthur asked, you cannot. And as you try you rack up debt like there is no tomorrow. Also, not being able to say NO to the kids of our generation has made a bunch of "adults" by age that are still kids and trying to raise their families... ARGH!

Arthur Willoughby said...

Good point. Mom and dad are buying toys for themselves and mortgaging everything to buy their kids the latest toys as well. Sit down and read a book together, for Pete's sake.

Missy said...

Vermont? Really?