Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bread and Circuses?

Alicia's post on the the screen writers guild strike made me think; I absolutely HATE that a high school teacher is STILL doing that to me! Instead of turning in my perspective in a 2-3 page essay with 1" margins, I'm "sticking it to the [wo]man" and blogging my thoughts instead as an act of non-conformity.

I have a certain coworker who when presented with ANY question about a television show (IE "Hey Andy, did you see last night's episode of the The Office?"), he simply responds with the muttered words, "Bread and Circuses". Being a curious individual who is NOT a cat, I figured one time time that I would be safe to ask him, "What the H*%# are you talking about Andy?".

He explained to me that during the decline of the Roman Empire, the powers that were decided that in order to distract the unwashed masses from the horrible conditions and corruption, they would provide cheap entertainment (in the form of the gladiatorial games) and food (bread).

Wikipedia (take that High School English teacher, I'm citing Wikipedia!) states: (link)
"Bread and circuses" is a phrase that can criticize either government policies to pacify the citizenry, or the shallow, decadent desires of that same citizenry. In both cases, it refers to low-cost, low-quality, high-availability food and entertainment that have become the sole concern of the People, to the exclusion of matters that some consider more important: e.g. the Arts, public works projects, human rights, or democracy itself. The phrase is commonly used to refer to short-term government palliatives offered in place of a solution for significant, long-term problems.
Honestly, TV fits the above description exactly. Joseph Stalin prophetically stated that television would be the greatest tool for propaganda the world had ever seen. Doubtless you could find more Americans that know who won last year's American Idol, as opposed to finding citizens of voting age who could find Iraq or Afghanistan on a map, or tell you who their state senator is.

Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I, like most people enjoy a good TV show that has good acting and a well written script - I don't fault the SWG for seeking compensation for the additional use of their work. I enjoy watching a few shows like The Office immensely, but lately we tend to download the episodes to watch them later (commercial free) - I don't sit around watching useless drivel while I wait for my favorite show to come on and you can bet I won't watch whatever garbage the network has slapped together to replace a funny and well written show.

Now that my favorite shows are playing reruns, I plan to do better things with my time - like go running, play with my son, talk with my wife, or plan crazy hikes in the middle of the night during the winter.

My wife says, "Yeah right! You'll just be on your computer!"


Becca Jo said...

plus tv rocks and I want my shows back...namely "the office"

good post though babe

jeri said...

Mmmm, I do love The Office. And Scrubs. But I watch them on DVD after the kids go to bed because
a. both kids have amazing parroting powers and I don't want them to repeat most of what is said on either show and
b. both kids can put in their own movie and run the DVD player so it doesn't matter WHAT I'm trying to watch, it always ends up being Scooby Doo and the Curse of the Wiki Tiki

Sadly, I can probably be numbered among the uninformed masses now, because I refuse to watch the news. Everything on there is missing children, murders, entire families getting wiped out in car wrecks and idiot news analysts making up weird conspiracy theories about the war in Iraq and one evening of the news makes me not able to sleep for 3 nights. I hate it.

sorensenpower said...

I don't care. I love my stories! Plus Andy is crazy!

georganne said...

and Becca would be right.

Alicia said...

no red pen--- I'm impressed! You stuck it to the (wo)man dude!