The Death of Culture

Yesterday, I watched Oprah speaking with The Director Who Walked Away From Hollywood, Tom Shadyac, about the new doc he has coming out, I AM, in which he sort of explores the wrongness of “the cult of celebrity,” and how humans are the only thing in nature that takes more than what it needs, because of some ridiculous concept of entitlement.

The conversation took the point of how we celebrate people for nothingness. Oh, look, Paris Hilton goes to a party. OMG, how does she do it? Party queen!

Cartoon is by @meganmything, on http://mycartoonthing.com

Yeah, let’s talk about that. That’s important.

Are you kidding me?

There’s great art, great music, great film, great thinkers, great catastrophe, great urgency, great change coming — all of these things, everywhere around us.

AND YET these are the people we choose to discuss and obsess over? Lame actors and actresses who are simply doing their jobs, or celebrity debutantes who are do nothing but party and endorse brands?

I’ve shat all over gossip columns for years in blogging, and I’ve never written speculative posts that cut down people — famous or otherwise. I don’t believe in it, never have.

And I sure as hell won’t celebrate dumb-ass debutantes who contribute jack to the world. Sorry, walk on, bub. That might be on ANOTHER blog, but not here, baby.

Still, I do follow these things a little, because I think it says important things to us about our society and what we value, and why that means we’re in trouble when the world is in crisis and needs serious solutions.

So, when today, I hear that Jersey Shore is shooting in Florence, Italy, my jaw drops. Admittedly, I’m behind on this news, but…

Florence, bitches. FLORENCE.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

My whole LIFE I’ve wanted to go to Florence. The following passage from Wikipedia sure as hell doesn’t suggest it’s a great shooting location for the most vapid cast of reality TV ever.

Florence is arguably the last preserved Renaissance city in the world[11] and is regarded by many as the art capital of Italy. It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as:

I bet Snooki’s over there mouth-breathing, chewing Hubba-Bubba goin’, “I’m packin’ for Eye-taly! We’re visiting a lady named Florence! She has nice food at her house, the guy said. And LOTS OF WINE.”

I used to be this bleeding-heart type who thought Eugenics sounded like a horrible thing, but then this cult-of-celebrity shit happened and now I want to sterilize Snooki, The Situation, Paris Hilton, the Kardashians, and a lot of other people.

Let’s sterilize them. Let’s end this now. Let’s save the future of civilization.

Or, you know, you could up your standards on filmed entertainment, America. “No more vapidity!” should be our clarion rallying cry.

Seriously. Wake up. Look at the mediocrity we celebrate. You don’t THINK this is hurting our soul?

But no. SEASON FOUR. IT’S NEVER GOING TO END. I’ll need a supply of Tylenol just for all the facepalming this will incite.

Snooki is a millionaire. If Snooki becoming a millionaire while espousing the advice “Study hard but party harder” in a two-hour Rutgers University speech/appearance for $32,000, more than the average person earns IN A YEAR, doesn’t suggest AMERICA IS BROKEN, then I don’t know what will.

Now, instead of keeping this lame series where it belongs, in JERSEY, it’s crossing the Atlantic to a place where, as a WORLD, we are lucky that time hasn’t erased, and we’re subjecting that hallowed Renaissance city to this horror that is the lowest of the cultural low that America has to offer?

So wrong. On so many levels.

Maybe I’m cynical. Maybe I’m jaded. People have often suggested this to me: “Steff, you’re such a cynic.”

Yep, heard THAT before.

So, that said, lemme reach here — lemme open up to the gods of possibility and offer that maybe, JUST MAYBE, this is the season Jersey Shore at long last has a character arc in which the vapidest of guidos and guidettes finally grow and learn that there’s more to life than beer bongs and g-strings.

Maybe Snooki grows a much-anticipated soul and learns to breathe through her nose and think at the same time.

Maybe “THE Situation” finally realises the world is bigger than he is, he’s just a cog on its wheel, and thusly he changes his name to the less obnoxious “A Situation.”

Maybe THIS is that season.

But I be it’s not. Growth and redemption apparently don’t sell in America anymore. Mediocrity, however, rakes it in.

I fear for Florence. I fear Italians will get a load of this crew and think “If we knew their descendants would’ve turned out like this, we never would’ve let the emigrants set sail. Had we known…”

But here we are. Season four. Let the wheels of exalted mediocrity spin yet once again.

I keep hoping America, and everyone else, is gonna wise up to this “Hah-hah, they’re so funny when they drink, let’s make them famous!” idiocy, but it might just be that my expectations are too high.

Come on, prove me wrong. Stop watching. Demand more.