“America gives every appearance of being a nation besotted with trashiness – divorce, illegitimacy, casual Fridays.” P.J . O’Rrouke
With endless displays of bad taste, the public is saturated with the ugly. Media, Hollywood, Television, popular Art and Music, for the most part, celebrate the more hideous aspects of the human condition.
One has to only take a casual look around to witness the carnage that is popular culture – a culture that is not just spoon fed to us, but dumped on us daily. There isn’t much of it that is redeeming. Reality shows depict morons behaving as well, morons. There is little originality – one TV show looks like the next. Music is one, long venture in banality where the lyrics of pop culture tunes have been dumbed down to 3rd grade understanding. Football half-time shows are a trip into the bizarre, into the satanic, celebrating deep depravations of souless wretches. Yet America continues to watch and listen.
“You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube. This is mass madness. You maniacs. In God’s name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion.” ~ Howard Beale from the movie, Network
American pop culture is etched in the gutter. It looks up and and rather than see the blue sky with the sun shining brightly, it is content to keep its gaze fixed on itself, satisfied to look around and rather than celebrate originality, it revels in its ugliness and goes about to create more. It follows the dictums of a corporate media who apparently want the country divided, hating one another, prohibiting alternative viewpoints to the point where anyone who doesn’t agree with their world view is labelled a Nazi. Intelligent discourse is hard to find, and either seething rage or complete indifference is the norm. If we continue to allow ourselves to be controlled and programmed by this type of heathenism, we are doomed to a life of ugliness and hopelessness, and worse.
Why we continue to put up with all this is more than perplexing. Maybe it’s from laziness, apathy, indifference…all sins against ourselves – who knows for sure. Maybe a combination of all of them. Throw in bad food, bad medicine, bad water, a vat of chemicals that supposedly keep us healthy and you have a recipe for a life bolted permanently in the bizarre.
From his work “The Libido for the Ugly” written back in 1927, H.L. Mencken had some thoughts on the attraction to ugliness…
“…Here is something that the psychologists have so far neglected: the love of ugliness for its own sake, the lust to make the world intolerable. Its habitat is the United States. Out of the melting pot emerges a race which hates beauty as it hates truth. The etiology of this madness deserves a great deal more study than it has got. There must be causes behind it; it arises and flourishes in obedience to biological laws, and not as a mere act of God. What, precisely, are the terms of those laws? And why do they run stronger in America than elsewhere? Let some honest Privat Dozent in pathological sociology apply himself to the problem.” ~ “The Libido for the Ugly” by H.L. Mencken
The slow decline to ugliness, narcissism, hedonism – and away from a love and pursuit of beauty and truth is no longer a slow decline but a rapid descent into the abyss. The cause? Many different things contribute – but what is being taught to children – elementary, secondary and beyond, along with the constant spinning, lying and manipulative tactics from the corporate media, doesn’t help.
The small community of WordPress writers and artists that I’ve encountered here seem to be the few who still pursue beauty and truth. They have the desire and intent to be better, or maybe just be who we they are meant to be – not who they are told they should be. Whether an artist, a musician, writer, poet, carpenter, farmer, tradesman – if we don’t aspire to the higher calling in each of us, we are left with the lowest common denominator – apathy and ugliness. Although the higher is always the more difficult path – it is always the most rewarding and self-fulfilling – not only for ourselves but for society at large.
Photo credit (both photographs): Unsplash.com/@aaronburden