September 28, 2006
September 28, 2006
September 28, 2006
Soap operas are addictive.
The idea of watching Oprah Winfrey at any time, but most of all while cooking dinner, has always been completely repellent to me, and news and ballgames are not substitutes for suppertime interaction. In our house supper was (and remains) the one time of the day when brakes were applied to everyone’s own busy concerns, and we checked in with each other. How’s school? How’s work? What word did you learn today, can you use it in a sentence? I read such-and-such today, and I thought…What do you think of this-or-that-thing that is happening in the world? Really? How did you reach that conclusion? Tell me more, I am interested in your ideas!
…What is particularly unsettling, these days, is how ubiquitous televisions are – they cannot be avoided. The last time I went shoe shopping with a kid I felt assaulted by the multiple televisions blaring while we looked at sneakers. It was so difficult to talk, to hear each other, and to think. I left the store without making a purchase, moved on to yet another store full of yakking televisions, (then to the haircutter whose set was going full boar) and when I got back to my quiet little house I realized why I hate going out so very much, these days.
Well, not everyone is like The Anchoress- or not many people are as aware as she is of how our lives are influenced by ideologies that are now framed as entertainment.
For a small investment each day, legions of soap fans become an integral part of some imaginary character’s life, rejoicing in made for TV joys and suffering in made for TV tragedies. Many people are drawn into the plots and subplots of each storyline, rooting for their heroes. They are equally as passionate about the characters they loathe, pleading with their beloved characters to ‘wake up!’ or ‘look out!’ for the troubles they see coming.
The plots are predicatable, of course. No one can be happy for too long and no one escapes the evil machinations of characters that every now and then, seem to be on the brink of a transformation to the good side, only to slip back into their evil ways, coercecd by others or by their own nature.
Of course, soap operas come in all kinds of guises- and they are not just the purview of women, as is often thought. In fact, most soap operas addicts are men.
‘Professional’ wrestling is a soap opera, with good guys and bad guys, all putting on a show. There is backhandedness and trickery, and women of questionable repute, never far from the bedroom, or so it seems. The entertainment of that kind of ‘professional’ wrestling lends itself to the subplots and machinations of the heroes or villains of the month. Fans are loyal to one character or another and over time, good becomes evil and evil becomes good. The drama is riveting.
That drama isn’t quite as profound in professional sports- but that too, is a kind of soap opera. Fans, die hard loyalists, share in the glory and the misery of every play on the field and every win or loss. Joy and anger are never far from the fore- all because of what happens with a ball.
Of course, watching sports, in it’s purist form, is about competition and appreciation of excellence. Real sportsmen and athletes understand this. Olympic competitors that help each other out, are recognized as great sportsmen and unselfish. Real sportsmen and athletes want to be challenged by the best competition. They could care less about the brouhaha that is the soap opera designed for the fans. To a real sportsman or athlete, criticism by a couch potato, beer swilling oaf, yelling at his TV set, is meaningless.
Politics too, has become a soap opera, and now, we are all beginning to pay the price.
The soap opera that is politics, is not much different than the soap opera that is ‘professional wrestling.’ There are no rules, and there is no expectation of decency.
Politicians lie- we al know this. Nevertheless, we attach significance to their endeavors as if they were credible.
Bill Clinton goes on national TV and lies- and he is applauded for his efforts. Further, he is celebrated by others in his party, knowing full well he lied. They believe it is alright to propagate those lies because they believe their agenda alone is sacred and that gives them special privileges. People cannot be trusted to think for themselves. The rules of decent and behavior do not apply to them. Bill Clinton cannot escape his ‘born on the wrong side of the tracks’ character, and the political legacy of that past has been passed on to a new generation. For the left, deceit, dirty fighting and bullying are the necessary characteristics of what it means to be a liberal today. They have as much respect for differing and divergent opinions as did Stalin, Poll Pot or Che. Disagree and you become a traitor, no matter how long you have supported their causes. An exaggeration? Ask Joe Lieberman, who has been so disrespected as of late. He was dismissed and openly disregarded by leftists at the Democratic Convention.
George Bush is the most secretive president this country has ever had. In a nation where keeping secrets is not acceptable, that is a bad thing. This administration believes that the nation is best served by keeping almost everything secret- even those things that do not be needed to be hidden away. George Bush, that well packaged and handled Texas ‘everyman,’ is really a privileged heir of the silver spoon, cannot connect fully with the American people. Like their counterparts on the left, they believe people cannot be trusted to think for themselves. Like the left, the administration will not countenance divergent opinions. Voice dissent and you are ‘out of the loop.’
American politics has become a soap opera, with heroes and villains and millions of fans deciding on their loyalties every few years.
The Arab world is a soap opera, too. In the course of a day, Arabs will say they want peace- even as they celebrate the likes of the murderous and racist Hezbollah and Hamas.
Like our political parties (only armed), they exist only to enrich themselves, and keep the Arab masses down, as that serves the needs of the dysfunctional Arab regimes. In a perverted way, who can blame them? Their lives are meaningless and they have no future- and that is exactly how these racist, murderous and dysfunctional regimes want it. They understand very well that frustrated and helpless people dream about anything that appears to empower them and give them any illusion of credibility or greatness- even if that dream is caricature.
In truth, the Palestinian and Arab world want what their leaders will not allow them to have- peace and prosperity. Why? Because peace and prosperity are the result of freedom and democracy- those things the dysfunctional Arab leadership abhor. They are slave owners, no more and no less. They have managed to usurp their faith into being the heartless and cruel slave overseer, dictating what is and isn’t allowed- and the punishments for violating their rules.
Soap operas and ‘professional wrestling’ are easy to understand. There are extremes of good and evil, strong and weak. Many Americans have been sucked into that same dimension of unreality, as if one side or the other were pure goodness or evil incarnate.
In reality, the people that voice that kind of drivel are irrelevant. One of the great hallmarks of any civilization is the willingness to ‘live and let live’ and the willingness to compromise. The vast majority of Americans understand that. We have said before that real world Americans are perfectly capable of getting along and even thriving. living alongside those of differing views and opinions. Of course, that is what scares the extremists on either side- that their views take second place behind what is the great American history of ‘live and let live.’
If you want to understand what an America dominated by extremists would look like, one only has to see the implosion of the Arab world. The only difference is that political ideologies will become a substitute for religion, with the requisite persecutions by various factions.
Soap operas. Just what we need, now.
September 28, 2006
Yesterday, we posted Why Dogs Bite People. Well, we weren’t quite done.
In order to help celebrate Dr Sanity’s birthday (today is the day- send money and we will be sure she gets some of it- well, just a little, anyway) we have decided to speak from her Id, something she, as a mental health professional, rarely gets to do. We know, deep down and buried inside every mental health professional, is an ‘assault therapist’ just waiting to be set free. It is with that in mind that we further address the relationship between (often dysfunctional) pets and their (often dysfunctional) owners.
We were taken to task about our view on pet blogs by some of our regular readers.
That said, we wanted to reconsider some of our thoughts and expand upon them here, in this forum. We reread our critics, and coupled with our own experiences with pets, decided it was indeed time to to clarify our thoughts on Pet Blogs and pet bloggers, as well as pet owners.
We believe most pet owners are fine people (save their own personal neurosis).
That said, we do stand by our earlier remarks- as they do concern us. There are some pet owners that have sanity in the rear view mirror.
These remarks are addressed to them.
Anyone that leaves a million and half dollars to cat is insane. This observation is further validated when the deceased leaves strict instructions on how to take care of said cat (as in, do not sell the house until after Pussy passes, or Pussy is to have an adequate supply of caviar, of a particular brand, bought in containers of a certain size) after their demise. Leaving instructions that a new red or yellow ribbon be applied daily to a yappy Maltese or Yorkie, with specific instruction on how to apply said ribbon, is reason enough to have the entire will invalidated.
Pets do not send Christmas or Birthday cards, of the regular or email variety. Pets do not know it’s your birthday, and further, they don’t care. If they did really know, they would surprise you by not crapping in the house for a day, not chew on anything of value or they would let you sleep longer, not bark or jump on the furniture- just for that one day.
Pets do not know it’s Christmas, save for the fact that today, master and fecal matter removal slave is letting me play with wrapping paper. Pets are not aware of Christmas stockings, embroidered with their names. Pussy or Spike do not understand when, on Christmas morning, you announce, in an exaggerated voice, “Ohhh! What did Santa bring for YOU?”
Pets do not need to be taken to a pet psychologist. There is no such thing. The quacks that refer to themselves as pet psychologists feel the same way about whack job pet owner that we do- they just want to cash in. In point of fact, every pet psychologist will tell you that Pussy or Spike isn’t happy, and they will diagnosis Pussy or Spike with a human disorder. Pussy ADD, or a particular- and rare- form of canine Multiple Personality Disorder, that affects Labs more than other breeds. You will be told it is somehow your fault for not dealing with or causing the problem. Please pay in advance for continued therapy.
Pet cemetaries are a nice thing. They are called ‘back yards.’ Any other place is called a wallet lightening exercise. Pet embalming, pet grave stones or grave markers, fall into that same category. Eulogizing ones pet, at home, is a lovely way to remember the beloved Pussy or Spike. Eulogizing one’s pet, in a formal setting, after having sent out 300 invitations, is insane. Participating in a pet wake prior to the ‘service’ is even more insane. One does not break out 100 year old scotch as farewell sendoff for a pet.
There is no rational reason to dress your pet up. Putting antlers on Spike for Christmas will not camoflauge the fact that he is a dog, not a reindeer. There are no appropriate Halloween costumes for pets.
Pets live in sin. They do not marry and despite a well planned and large gathering at the wedding ceremony, will not remain monogamous. Further, inter-species pet marriages are disturbing, for a variety of reasons. Having Spike or Pussy wear a tuxedo or wedding dress (complete with veil), is plain crazy, period. Spending a fortune on jewellery for Spike or Pussy, to celebrate the event, is also crazy. Having a photographer immortalize the solemn ocassion (and later sending out that thank you cards, signed with the paw prints of the happy couple) is beyond acceptable normal human behavior.
Asking your pet’s opinion on everything from what to put on pizza to discussing your pet’s politics will not make the extreme pet owner appear any more rational. To imply that you and your pet vote in the same manner, or agree on Iraq, or that bitch neighbor, the bitch’s pet or the bitch’s choice of pet clothing or Christmas/Birthday card/gift, is no testimony to your sanity.
This post was originally published on February 4, 2005. Our opinions have not changed.