Whenever I hear people talk about reality-tv shows, I immediately get a knee-jerk reaction to roll my eyes and shake my head. My disdain for such shows that I feel are slowly eating away the mental activity of peoples brains has taken an almost visceral level. I pretty much feel the same way about day-time soap operas, or their Spanish equivalent, novelas. And lets not get started on talk shows. Then while I was listening to an episode of “Armchair Kidnation” with Michael Carrino where he was criticizing how some people take sports to seriously I had to take a pause and reflect on my own idiosyncrasies.
I realized that I had my own faux-pas that might cause others the same knee-jerk reaction, such as, my love of NFL Football or sci-fi, fantasy or even podcasts. The fact of the matter is, we all do the same thing. We all use something to distract ourselves from our real lives, albeit, for a short period of time. Most of us, especially now, are going through rough times and not everyone or anyone is ever happy all the time. Which is why we have entertainment. Entertainment, no matter what it is, helps to spark the endorphins in our body which causes us these little spurts of joy and give us a push to keep chugging along.
In fact the Romans, specifically the poet Juvenal, had a metaphor that equated this in some sense: “panem et circenses” which roughly translates to bread and circuses. In this metaphor, as per wikipedia, Juvenal was accusing, “people choosing food and fun over freedom” and “of giving up their civic duty and following whichever political leader offers to satisfy their decadent desires” In those days, it was forum games (i.e. gladiator matches, re-enactment of ship battles, etc) and bread to sate the hunger of the poor. These days the entertainment for distractions are in abundance, from sports, to tv shows, to the Internet, to video games, etc.
It’s definitely a good way to keep the populace from realizing their plight and maybe protesting it. Causing the accumulation of consumer debt is another way. You can’t really spend time to unite rallies and/or speak out when you’re too busy working a low-paying job to pay your debts and make ends meet. Speaking of which, I better get back to balancing my budget and see what few scrapings I’ll have for the rest of the week. I hope my Tivo has some good recordings to help me pass the time.