This is the beginning of day three of our 12 day California trip (8am here). Through the generosity of my mother, who travels every day for her job, we were able to stay at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn right off the 101 in Hollywood. We are less than a mile from the Hollywood Bowl and the filming of last nights' American Idol. Unknowingly, we were actually caught in the traffic jam on Highland near Vine going into the show. Unknowingly, we passed Prince. Unknowingly, we were on Paramount's lot yesterday while 23-1874-10asr46t2%93 famous people were doing really important things, like getting their makeup and hair done. I know nearly all of this blogs readers will disagree with me when I say this, but I think we really are amusing ourselves to death. And Hollywood--pretty much all of the greater LA area, in fact--reeks of this culture of death. Uncle Screwtape must love this. Over 60 million votes were cast to decide the winner of American Idol last night. As they said on the show, that's more than have been cast in any Presidential election. What does this mean for the United States? for the world? There are the obvious, and unhelpful, answers: we just like to be entertained or lighten up--the world's not going to hell in a handbasket because people watch TV. All justifications like this are probably true. But it's also true that there are a hellovalot of problems in the world, in our country, in our Church, in our cities, in our own homes, that are never going to be improved (note, i didn't suggest "solved") until people can get past the notion that in order for them to get behind something, they need to be amused by it. The Roman consuls and caesars knew very well that if they gave the masses cheap bread, "circuses", and a day off of work that they could raise taxes to support their wars of conquest, expand their grip on the civil body politic, and indulge themselves in whatever luxury struck their momentary fancy. Why is it that sometimes I feel that we've not outgrown the Roman model of governance? Have we--the masses--learned any lessons over the last 2000+ years?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But unlike a presidential election, voters on American Idol can vote 10, 20, 30 times and more. And they do, from what I hear.

Let's keep this in mind before we get all up in arms about that statistic. Perhaps the concern should be rephrased as "how come young people between the ages of 18-25 will vote 20 times for an American Idol and not vote at all for the President of the US?"

5/25/2006 12:46 PM  
Blogger zena said...

that hotel is over the top, dude!

i heart hollywood murals.

i hope you are somewhat enjoying yourselves.


5/25/2006 8:24 PM  
Blogger e said...

z--we are...now that we're not in LA anymore. but yeah, that hotel is something else.

Anonymous, wish you'd posted your name...but okay. let's take your point and say something like "as many" or even "half as many" voters were actively involved in voting for American Idol as were casting votes in any given presidential election. let's also go with the caveat that it's the "Gen Y" or "millenial" generation that's casting these votes by and large (though i'm guessing it would be false to say that it's primarily this age group that's interested in American Idol.

But all this stat juggling is beside the point. The real question is: how come we care so much about things that matter so little and care so little about matters that matter so much. presidential elections aside, our society seems enthralled with meaningless entertainment as an inverse function of our association with real problems in the world. What i mean is that it seems like the more serious and numerous the real world problems, the more likely we are to sit on our couches and turn on our TVs and do jack s*#% about it.

this might be a patently false analysis, but it's hard not to take a good look at american culture and get this sense.

do you disagree?

5/27/2006 2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say "What i mean is that it seems like the more serious and numerous the real world problems, the more likely we are to sit on our couches and turn on our TVs and do jack s*#% about it."

Well of course. And the first part of your statement is the exact reason for the second.

Why ponder on it, go do what you can about it instead. Why drum up support for vague ideas about changing the situation on a website, get a bunch of people to agree with you, and then all do "jack S*#%" about it? Act, don't talk, and then maybe people will follow.

5/27/2006 12:24 PM  
Blogger e said...

Hmmmm... "act, don't talk." I like that thinking.

But on the other hand, you read and commented. So you must value talking as well. Or is typing an action as well as a "talking"?

6/02/2006 9:27 PM  

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