Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oh My God, TV Killed Kenny!

    I don't watch anything on TV at all. I don't even own one. Can you say that? I do have Netflix though, and I'm addicted like a junkie, with a needle full of South Park, Wilfred, Spongebob Squarepants and Jersey Shore. I don't even want to like Jersey Shore. I watched two episodes as research for a writing project with my wife, and now I've seen the whole series. It's cliche train-wreck entertainment, and it's human nature to be captivated by that sort of deplorable, shameful activity. That's something really bothersome to me, the fact that it's in my nature. To be so entertained by something so negative, to encourage it and give it beyond safe haven but a glorified status, is truly alarming. I love the dreck on TV, but the implications really bother me.
    We all make our own individual judgements when we see borderline abusive parents on Toddlers & Tiaras, or the alcoholic sociopaths on Jersey Shore, however the simple fact that they are on the air at all, and that millions tune in indicate that as a society we approve of these behaviors. At the very least, we are saying that it's ok for some people to act that way for entertainment. As a society we should shun this sort of thing. Even shows that aren't reality TV, such as Breaking Bad or Sons of Anarchy put societally detrimental activity on a pedestal. I'm undeniably part of the problem right now, too. I love watching U.F.C. fights but I also realize that its not much more civilized than slaves forced to fight for the amusement of ancient Romans. Even shows that seem harmless can have far-reaching negative consequences. For decades, family sitcoms have put a positive spotlight on dysfunction. Husbands and wives who fight and manipulate each other are made to seem like the relationship we should all have. Also, myriad shows targeting children are similarly teaching negative relationship stereotypes to children of today, and parents are all too happy to let TV raise their children.
    So what is there to be done about it? It's very difficult to say. If mass media is affecting our development, and we are the ones making the TV shows, it becomes a vicious circle. It will take a long-term conscious effort on the part of everyone who watches TV and goes to the movies. We flock to the comfort of familiar programming, with familiar themes, but those themes are what we need to change. Unfortunately those themes reflect on us as people. While we aren't all sexual predators, we all don't make five year old girls parade around in bathing suits for the whole country, and we don't all cook meth, there is something about the bad behavior that we love to hate. To move forward as a society we must find away to put our morbid fascinations aside in favor of the good judgement we all posses. We know these things are bad, its part of the reason we are drawn to them. Now we need to find a new way to put our curiosity aside long enough to punish the bad behavior before we end up rewarding it again.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sports Discourse

    First base for small talk among males: sports. "Did you catch the game last night?" I didn't. "Who's gonna win the super bowl?" Not a clue. "Who's your favorite team?" I don't have one. It's not that I don't enjoy sporting events, I played little league baseball for years. I just have more important things to care about. If there happens to be a game on, especially football, I'll watch, I'll get into and enjoy myself. But will I ever go out of my way for a sports team? Hell, no. Will I ignore my wife for a sports team? Even more vehemently no.
    It's a staple of sitcoms, beer commercials and comedy routines, the husband or boyfriend who just wants to watch the game, and his favorite lady keeps bothering him, tearing his attention from the screen. To me it's an easy situation, one that doesn't cause me the least stress. How can I put this, my wife... does...certain things with me behind closed doors that I enjoy and she would not want detailed online. Suffice it to say these activities are much more fulfilling than whatever game happens to be on TV. I have no hesitation in admitting this, and it is a decision I will stand by. I see friends, family members, casual acquaintances and total strangers who invest a great deal of time and money following everything some team like a lost puppy. If their team won, they are happy for days, and they get dpressed after a big loss. They plaster decals on their car like a tramp stamp, and proudly wear shirts with another man's name on them. Fanatics even gouge their skin and fill it with ink, a tattoo to show everyone that even if they are naked, they still love the Yankees or the Lakers or the Steelers.
    And this is somehow considered normal, cool even, among other men. And people like me are branded as whipped or gay or a pussy for not following a favored team of muscley, sweaty men. If you ask me about my favorite team, I will ask you what your favorite team is. My favorite team is whoever is playing against your favorite team. I have more important things to get worked up about. So feel free to call me gay if it makes you feel better about idolizing 63 men in matching outfits. I'll be at home fucking my wife.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Walkin' in a Splintered Gun-derland pt. 1

   In the fallout of the Newtown, CT tragedy, gun control has become a fertile ground of rabid debate. I've already gotten in a few arguments on the topic and I have not found anyone able to convince me to change my opinion. Despite what some Arizona lawmakers seem to think, the laws governing firearms need to be tightened in some way. Make no mistake, I'm not professing that I have the exact solution, I merely recognize the progress that must be made. The facets of this issue are many, (and I plan to address as many of them as I can think of, one at a time) but today I want to address only the logical fallacy of comparing gun control to drug laws.
   This is one of the most common arguments facing people like me. NRA supporters just love throwing around the 'how's that war on drugs going, and why should we ban guns when the drug war is failing so miserably?' Yes, it's true that if we banned guns it would create another criminal enterprise like the drug cartels. However, there are very few people in the country who are actually trying to completely ban guns, and I am not one of them. However, if you are of the opinion that firearm regulations in the country as a whole are anything but lax, you are mistaken and it deeply worries me. Both sides of this debate like to point to the children, so here are some facts with regard to guns, drugs and children. 40% of high school students admit to having tried marijuana, a schedule 1 illegal narcotic**. Also, one third of families (that's 33 and a third percent) in America who own guns also have children*. I was not able to find any data regarding how many children actually tried shooting a gun to compare to trying marijuana, so these statistics are not exactly parallel, but it illustrates my point, that there is already less demand for guns than there is currently for drugs among young people. And drugs are entirely illegal, not simply (under)regulated. With these obvious gaps in demand for guns versus drugs, I have a very hard time believing then, that gun control laws will lead to criminal activity on the same scale. Put it this way, there are already illegal weapons markets in the U.S. supplying weapons to organized crime groups who don't want to deal in serial numbers and licensing. Would restricting widespread access to guns lead to more of the general, law-abiding population to turn criminal, buying guns illegally just to have them? Compared to the current demand for drugs even though they are illegal, I see no logical reason to believe that increased gun control would bring drug-level criminal activity.
   What I really want to say about all this is that drugs are for self-destruction and guns are for the destruction of something or more accurately someone else. Therefore, from an ethical standpoint, I see huge differences in laws regarding one and the other. Like banners and headlines cry out, my interests are in the protection of the children, not protecting the guns. Maybe we need more in-depth psychological evaluations before gun licenses are issued. Maybe certain kinds of guns, like automatic weapons should be banned, but hunting rifles should be OK. Maybe we should raise the legal age to use guns or even include gun safety in schools. Maybe gun safes should be mandatory or there should be increased ability to track who is buying and moving guns. Maybe gun license renewals need to be more frequent. Maybe the qualifications to get a gun should be harder. I don't know the best solution, but I do know the worst solution: inaction and denial.
   No real harm can come from increased regulation, only perceived harm. Guns are not the only method of personal defense, and hunting is not a necessity. I could even see me, personally, target shooting for recreation, however, I also play video games for fun. If Counter Strike 1.6 was responsible for the deaths of a classroom of kindergarteners, I would feel the same way, and call for the game's banning. And no, I'm not talking about the influence on the crime, I'm talking about the means; no video game disc can fire .30 caliber rounds 800 times a minute. The video games vs. guns post is one for the future. The evidence of apathy to this cause fills headlines with the worst news imaginable, and no solution will make everyone happy or work instantaneously. However, we need to make a conscientious effort and we need to try now, before another maniac, who ought to be in a jacket that makes him hug himself, exploits the gaping loopholes and lax laws, and another community is left in desolation and grief.