The Journal of Provincial Thought
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Fartch Bombastric Fondlegod pic
by Fartch Bombastric Fondlegod
Admonishment # 653. Flout the flicks that flaunt our degradation
Generations have been soaking up nihilistic imagery in irresponsible entertainment that is rife with anti-standards, and methinks—mefears—the public psyche and soul have mutated to the perverse.  Point back to Twain and Shakespeare and all the clever cusses of literary antiquity, but precedent is not exoneration.  Is there anywhere, anymore, a popular protagonist uncompromised by some malady of character, a charismatic drama star who is not some species of rogue?   

—Probably, but rarely.  Certainly this Dr. House on television isn’t one.  Seems despite his medical brilliance, he can’t shake dope.  (Sherlock and his cocaine.)  His insufferable manner with patients and everyone else will usher in medicine’s golden age of annoyance, wherein you the patient are nothing more than a nuisance standing between your doctor and his high, and spoiling the joy of his greatness.  Actually, House won’t sit for that.  If things aren’t going his way he’ll run his car through your wall into the living room.  The new season finds him in prison for it, where he can stay, as far as I’m concerned, at least until the beleaguered taxpayer in Houseworld tires of carrying his weight and has to drop him in the sea.  Hugh Laurie was put to less horrifying use as one of Blackadder’s (Rowan Atkinson) zanier foils.  Ah, those were lighter days, though even then the signs of our trending cultural morbidity were evident. 

Then there’s the program about the ex-schoolteacher with terminal cancer who decides to pay the bills and fend for his family by Breaking Bad and becoming a drug lord in cahoots with his former student.  A glimpse of an episode inundated me in blood and terror.  Critics apparently acclaim this sad nightmare as “the best show on television.”  It appears these folks have pushed the envelope past that cutesy television series centering on a cheerleader’s mom who becomes a smash success peddling pot.  That one’s so yesterday.  So quaint.  A lid is but a lid, a wink is but a wink; the fundamental things now stink, as time goes by. . .  

There is a degree of dark fascination that should never be indulged, because it stimulates psychologies that can be depressive, erosive, even aggressively destructive.  When we vicariously enter the fictional world of the troubled and damned, we are skillfully invited by grey-area artists to empathize with charismatic antiheroes.  Malformed emotions and tortured attitudes can be carried from the fiction back into our real lives.  Fight the system, the corrupt establishment—blame its imperfections for provoking our own default to evil.  Of course this isn’t honest, logical, or responsible, but it’s convenient.  Our ragged edges become our shtick, give us character, make us cool like House.  Go by a relativistic, arbitrary moral code that accommodates our base proclivities, but feel free to break code in case of conflict; it’ll make for poignancy.  The heck with saner people’s expectations.  The heck with social responsibility.  Self is where it’s at, self-indulgence the new citizenship.

Let’s not even talk about language, or the flood of flesh that has put peep shows out of business.   All of it has escaped from maximum confinement in the nether realm of pornography and entered the family den where, according to the disingenuous assertion of the purveyors and their adherents, parents should be eternally present if they would presume to interfere with their children’s lives.  —So let’s mention it a little there, after all.

I expect to be pelted, cornered and beaten for my straight talking.  Nobody is going to flout the flicks that flaunt our degradation.  They’re going to pee on me instead.  Human beings who have shed the studied inhibitions required by social integrity, after all, have gone animal, surrendering to core impulses that characterize the broader animal kingdom.    

I can’t help it that writers are either poor at the art of tasteful restraint or happy to shovel spiritual sludge if it puts cannelloni with walnuts and apples on their plates.  (Complemented with sparkling Blanquette de Limoux—oh my lord, talk about good . . .)  Each generation seems bound to blast through the civil limits established by its predecessors.  When a society’s diminishing resistance to assault upon its structure finally results in enough joists being pummeled loose, the floor must plummet and carry walls, furnishings and resident nitwits into the cellar.  I have not much cause to doubt that I have already witnessed the point of no return in another of humanity’s historic cyclic descents into a black abyss, where a foolish people’s hedonistic abandon wells into chaos that swallows them up.  And you were there!    

Then one day after a few decades of hell on earth, a few intrepid visionaries, champions and martyrs reinvent and grow a set of principles around which civilization can coalesce and thrive... until it, too, gets unraveled by those with no regard for it, for the security it provides, for the higher institutions it births, for the lives it enriches and protects.  Unraveled by those who prize the freedom to annihilate.  Those who deem themselves wiser than all the sages of the ages.  Those who deem their urges singularly urgent.            

But here I must hop to a positive note if I’m to be kept on as the lonely voice ranting of reason.  There is good news.  Great news.  There are always, at microcosmic level, such virtues as true love, absolute loyalty, decency and respect, and they are perpetually viable so long as the reavers and wreckers ravaging the macrocosm are unaware.  Keep it to yourself and you can build a lot of these qualities into your personal world.  All the anarchy that’s brought down on your head and rubbed in your face need never penetrate to your heart or mar your comportment.

So I have cast my pearls.  Scoop them up quickly and guard them preciously, ’cause here come the swine, and I think they’re ticked.

Oooh-oooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Oooh-ooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you. . .

—Lynyrd Skynyrd, “That Smell”
—Fondlegod has opined.
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