Dumb media, dumber culture

Something is rotten in the state of pop culture. Look at the top of the Billboard pop charts where you will find such masterpieces as “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” “Right Thur” and “Get Low.” Insightful stuff, all of it.

With fall here, we can’t forget about the new TV lineup, too. First, there is ABC’s anticipated “Threat Matrix,” whose biggest accomplishment is including the word “matrix” in its title. Then there is the Kelly Ripa vehicle “Hope & Faith.” I cannot think of a better qualification for sitcom stardom than appearing in a crappy daytime soap and a stupid daytime talk show; Ripa is sure to find success! And let us not forget CBS’ “JAG” spinoff, “Navy NCIS.” Hey, CBS had to find a new show to spin off besides “CSI” (though they did a good job of making sure the letters C-S-I still appeared in the title).

It is not like anyone expects the writers to come up with anything original anymore. The state of movies this last summer was so sad – unless your idea of a classic is “Bad Boys II,” in which case you can stop reading – I will not bother to go into details.

What does this lack of quality songs, shows and movies say about our culture? Most entertainment has become so dull, predictable, mind-numbingly boring and formulaic that it is almost impossible to tolerate. The people running the major entertainment studios no longer seek out bright new minds bursting with original ideas and creative energy. That is too dangerous for them. Instead, they are a bunch of plagiarizing businessmen, afraid to try anything new for fear of failing.

As a culture, we cry for something more, but we are hypocrites. We claim to be tired of the vapid wasteland which has become our shared popular culture, but over and over again we occupy ourselves with the dullest, safest, stupidest entertainment possible, leaving truly inspired works to become “cult classics.” Recent examples from the TV world are Fox’s “Family Guy” and “Undeclared.” How can these shows be canceled, but “Friends” return for its third consecutive final season ever? Seriously though, NBC really means it this time.

Oh sure, there are exceptions. Musicians and groups like Eminem, Radiohead and the White Stripes come to mind, as well as virtually every original series on HBO and films like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. But examples like these are few and far between, serving as shiny beacons as we try to navigate the retarded cesspool of crap that has become our pop culture.

The bottom line is, mediocrity of the media can only accepted in a society in which mediocrity of the mind exists. In many ways, in society the only thing worse than being dumb is being smart. We do not want smart people; they rock the boat too much, question what they are told and think originally. They challenge us.

Stupidity is much easier to deal with. Who needs new ideas and ways of thinking when old ones are so damn comfortable? In spite of society’s rhetoric about finding new paradigms, what it really wants is for people to stay inside the box. Do not be original; do not step outside that box. Free thinkers are not tolerated. Just be a good little automaton, do what you are told, do not ask questions and catch “Jeepers Creepers 2” while you still can!

Matt Graham is a sophomore. He welcomes comments at [email protected]