Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I've often wondered what a person from the third world would think of some of our television shows. I don't always have to guess. My girlfriend from Uganda was horrified when she first came to this country by what she saw on the screen. And not for what you might think. We get hung up on nudity and sexuality. But what bothered her was the gratituous violence. After all, she'd seen enough of the real thing to never want to see it again...let alone glorify it. A commentator on Access television gave me insight on how we have given ourselves permission to see horrible things done to one another. Make the villain very, very evil. Have him harm innocents on screen. For the rest of the movie, we are given permission to cheer his and his associates' destruction. In the most horrible way.

But I didn't mean to talk about violence today. What I wonder about these days are the shows that help us deal with our excesses. I think of shows "Clean Sweep" and "The Biggest Loser" that helps people shed their excess. Whether it be a household out of control, or a body out of control. What would such a pile of goods look like to people outside of our bubble of prosperity? Our problems must appear vacuous, silly. But they are real. We do really struggle to pare down.

Perhaps a leaner society would be a happier society. I'm thinking of planting a victory garden this coming spring, in commemoration of our survivor past.

As a closing note, have you ever seen Time's photo series, "What the World Eats"? Well worth a visit.