Have you ever wondered how, with the increasing democratization of opinion outlets, we seem to only increase our collective idiocy? Face it, despite a cable channel or blog for nearly every conceivable point of view, political discourse in our country is about as sophisticated as a debate on Nietzsche conducted between a gopher and a mongoose.
Our appetite for entertainment has turned political discourse into little more than one more throw down between Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik. Want to see intelligent people discussing current events rationally? You silly fool! Wouldn’t it be more fun to watch Whoopi Goldberg and Sherry Shepard ponder whether the earth is flat or round?
Admittedly, I’m the first person to admit that it’s more entertaining to watch Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise debate child rearing than it is to watch a similar topic addressed by experts on Meet the Press, but somewhere along the way it’s gotten so out of control that one wonders if our celebrity obsession can ever be curbed. Is there a place for social commentary on our airwaves for someone who isn’t described by VH1 as a comedian/actress?
Another phenomenon I’ve noticed is the make a fool look like a fool show. Members of this subclass would include Penn and Teller’s Bullshit, and the king of the "film a moron" movement, Michael Moore. Essentially, what goes on in these types of political dialogues is that you take an issue, find the stupidest person who disagrees with you, expose their dunce status, and declare a victory for your point of view. Why have a stirring debate on abortion when you can find someone who thinks you should be able to end a child’s life anytime before the age of 6 instead? Come clean. You just watched Michael Moore’s Roger and Me. Are you appalled at GM’s corporate insensitivity or are you laughing at the crazy woman with the rabbits for sale as pets or food?
It doesn’t matter whether you are watching a show originating from a liberal or conservative slant. If the show indeed has a slant, they are debating an entertaining moron.
Say you are running a blog. You write well, and you have a point of view. Does anyone notice? Probably not, if you’re sane and rational. Let’s say 1000 bloggers discuss Paul Haggis’ new movie, In the Valley of Elah. The 950 bloggers that discuss it with sensitivity and intelligence will basically cancel each other out and find themselves enraged as Debbie Schlussel who called the movie “high quality Bin Laden cinema” is being interviewed on FOX and MSNBC. Who could blame a prospective blogger for typing out their most absurd, idiotic thoughts? How else does one get noticed? There are probably a lot of sane right wing pundits out there and yet, it’s Ann Coulter on TV time and again.
Face it, in the year 2007, sane informed discourse doesn’t sell.
That’s why tonight on Hardball, you’ll be watching a debate on the legalization of drugs between a man who feels that toddlers should be allowed to experiment with heroin and a woman who thinks that penicillin is the work of the devil. Hopefully, its entertainment value will be worth the lost IQ points and the karmic deadening of our souls.