Dwain Walden

Has the American society dumbed down, or is our dumbness just more pronounced with an increase in population? Is it a ratio thing?

And with broader venues of communication, are we more exposed to that dumbness?

A recent national commentary blasted the media for telling us too much about which movie stars are divorcing and too little about politics, economics and advances in science.

Of course someone must define dumbness in this analysis. I can’t exactly put that into words, but I can paint you a picture. Watch a rerun of Jay Leno’s “Battle of Jaywalking All Stars.” And no, John Wilkes Booth did not invent the telephone booth.

Now let’s talk about the chicken and the egg. Is it the media’s fault or does the fault lie with the audience? If you don’t watch, the show goes away.

Think about this, there’s 150-plus channels. They put a lot of stuff on those channels, and it’s very difficult to attract Phi Beta Kappas to all the programming.

One channel brings us nightly stories about guys and gals who drive tractor trailer rigs on icy roads. It’s called “Ice Road Truckers.” I appreciate that we have truckers skilled enough to haul pipe from Fairbanks, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay. But when I’ve watched one run, I’ve watched them all. My appreciation is duly noted.

Another channel takes us into the stormy North Pacific every night to watch crab fishermen haul in their traps. The crabs all look alike every night. There’s never a pirate’s chest hauled in. I’m very fond of crab legs. Again, my thanks to those fishermen.

Then we have the Jerry Springer Show. People come on stage in their underwear and throws chairs at one another because one found out that the other one had been sleeping around. The third party shows up in his or her underwear and a bouncer keeps them apart. I’ve often wondered why they were in their underwear. And then it hit me. That way they don’t have anywhere to conceal a weapon. All of these people look like they might audition for a remake of “Deliverance.”

The fact that people who obviously are repulsed at the idea of a Stairmaster will appear on national media in their Fruit of the Looms doesn’t concern me as much as the fact that such programming appeals to an audience. In other words, the people who like this kind of stuff may also be licensed to drive on public roads, may use public facilities and what’s really scary ... they reproduce.

And now we have high definition digital television putting this stuff in y our lap. I just bought one with a screen so big I can smell popcorn when I turn it on. It does have an impact on your senses. When the big rig started cracking through the frozen lake, I clung to a cushion, even though I don’t think it could be used as a flotation device. And when the skinny guy wearing only his boxer shorts and a paisley tie was being pummeled by the big woman, also in her undergarments, I got nauseous.

So did media create the audience, or was it already there and media responded to the demand? It’s often been said that we are what we eat. So are we also what we watch?

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Obserer, 985-4545. E-mail: dwain.walden@gaflnews.com)

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