Staying Afloat in the Cultural Cesspool

 

Should a foul-mouthe, anti-Catholic bigot, and pornographer, be accepted into the mainstream television industry, and there granted license to express his odious tripe on a prime time situation “comedy”? At first blush we might respond that it’s a First Amendment issue. The Constitution, it can be asserted, protects offensive speech, so any attempt at censorship should be quickly shut down. That may be true when the government attempts to silence speech. But the media — it was once believed — should exercise some sensible self-censorship, if for no other reason than good taste. Sadly, television entertainment executives have clearly concluded that must see TV should be filled with sewage. Evidently, viewers crave depravity.

But are there any limits? The question arises again as Disney-ABC has begun to promote a show called The Real O’Neals, based on the life of Dan Savage. The promotional trailer
trailer is out, and is all one wouldexpect of Savage. Like so many sitcoms, the entire story line revolves around sex, with the twist being that the Catholic Church is portrayed as sex-obsessed, Catholic parents as hypocrites, and priests as oppressive guardians of outdated rules and regulations still taught by Rome. The usual clichés are the essence of the show. Catholic families are stunted in their moral lives, and parents just can’t see the inconsistencies in defending Church teachings, while at the same time violating every rule. The message — as should be expected of a character as Savage — is that Catholics parents are just too uptight about allowing their children to experiment with their various body parts.

For sexual hucksters, there are few easier targets for ridicule than the Catholic Church. Many Catholics and non-Catholics see only the rules, while ignoring the deep philosophical and theological foundation of the Church’s teachings on human sexuality. When Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, the so-called “birth control encyclical,” he was vilified both from within and from outside the Church. The attacks cointinue to this day, but often arise from willful ignorance. I’ve had many friends tell me how wrong the Pope was, but who, when asked, admit they’ve never read the encyclical. About all they can see is that the Church was robbing them of good orgasms. It never occurred to them that the Pope had something beautiful to offer.

The Church teaches that sex — indeed all of creation — is a pure gift from God. The Lord has given us the opportunity to participate in His full creative act through the physical union of husband and wife, and which rises to its fullest glory when a child is conceived: a new creation in the image and likeness of God. For this reason, the Church calls upon the married faithful to be fecund and not to horde the gift of sex for themselves.

The Church also knows that sex is among the most powerful of destructive forces. History is littered with tales of men and women who have lost all they have to the demon of lust. So great a gift, once abused, leads to the highest form of depravity. It encourages perverse and inhumane behavior, as evidenced by such delights as 50 Shades of Grey.

Nobody is compelled to accept these teachings. Ifsurveys are to be believed, most Catholics ignore the prohibition on contraception, and increasing numbers of Catholics support gay marriage, and believe sex outside of marriage is perfectly fine so long as the couple “love” one another. Likely as not, many Catholics will watch The Real O’Neals and find affirmation of their rejection of Church doctrine. They will laugh at the fuddy-duddy priests. They may see themselves as victims of a heavy handed Church. They will ignore Walker Percy’s warning in Lost in the Cosmos, that “there is no fashion so absurd, even grotesque, that it cannot be adopted, given two things; the authority of the fashion trendsetter…and the vacuity and noughtness of the consumer.”

Shows like The Real O’Neals are the perfect manifestation of the thoughtless rejection of the gift of human sexuality. Savage and his Disney-ABC partners hope for high ratings from a culture numb to the beauty of sexual self-discipline. For them, ribald (and unfunny) jokes convey the joys of sexual license. Satire, it seems, is also an effective cloak to consequences of the message: the body count of the sexual revolution grows daily. That is no laughing matter.

What to do about it?

Several organizations are circulating petitions demanding that Disney-ABC pull the program before it airs. I don’t often sign these petitions because they typically have little success. In addition, petitions, in my experience, are counterproductive since they are used by the opposition to show that social conservatives are ignorant Neanderthals. Unfortunately, that message sells.

The better approach is to explain to friends and neighbors just how idiotic and offensive these programs are. To stand athwart, not merely yelling “stop,” but holding the line. We must also recognize that this is not just a Catholic issue. The sludge threatens to drown Evangelicals, fundamentalists, and secular critics of the contemporary cultural slop. Petitions and boycotts are not enough. We must serve as signs of contradiction to a world collapsing into the dark. And perhaps the best approach is to greet this garbage with scorn.

Published in Culture
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  1. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    How boring! Another program giving the stale party line without originality. Another show “playing” virtuous against the “evil” conservatives.

    • #1
  2. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Mike Rapkoch: The better approach is to explain to friends and neighbors just how idiotic and offensive these programs are. To stand athwart the depravity, not merely yelling stop, but holding the line.

    Or, by being even funnier. It should be possible… Actually having boundaries gives subtle innuendo much more, er, friction.

    We need more PG Wodehouses. Perhaps even more Mae Wests – she was a saucy, rather shocking lady, true, but because she maintained fairly substantial boundaries to rub up against.

    • #2
  3. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Perhaps we need to really support entertainers who uphold our values – in addition to complaining about those who don’t?…Well and truly said, Mike!

    • #3
  4. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Mike Rapkoch: The better approach is to explain to friends and neighbors just how idiotic and offensive these programs are. To stand athwart the depravity, not merely yelling stop, but holding the line.

    Or, by being even funnier. It should be possible… Actually having boundaries gives subtle innuendo much more, er, friction.

    We need more PG Wodehouses. Perhaps even more Mae Wests – she was a saucy, rather shocking lady, true, but because she maintained fairly substantial boundaries to rub up against.

    I’m for that. There is real humor about sex. Irony. But the constant and obsessive droning about it–especially when the material is just obscene–is just tiring. It’s why I spend whatever TV time I have watching baseball.

    • #4
  5. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    I finally got talked into screening the latest the Bible miniseries. Not impressed. Undoubtedly harmful. Way too condensed. To say more I would need to see more, and life is too short.

    Scorn is good. Put them up for ridicule. Remember in doing so that the media provide the finest case studies for morality in their most obnoxious products. In the story lines, in the lives of the celebrities behind them, like Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan, in the reflexive pandering to every destructive urge, in the baiting of the religiously observant, ad inifinitum.

    I fear that your efforts will serve to bring more notoriety to the project, resulting in more viewers. The depravity viewership is already oversaturated with viewing options, however, and new series offerings seem to have developed a far higher mortality rate than when I actually watched television thirty years ago.

    Regardless, I wish you well. It is a worthy crusade.

    • #5
  6. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Sisyphus:I finally got talked into screening the latest the Bible miniseries. Not impressed. Undoubtedly harmful. Way too condensed. To say more I would need to see more, and life is too short.

    SNIP

    Sisyphus, be prepared: A.D. (The Bible Continues) looms…Painful in its ignorance. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you…You’re most welcome!)

    • #6
  7. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Sisyphus:I finally got talked into screening the latest the Bible miniseries. Not impressed. Undoubtedly harmful. Way too condensed. To say more I would need to see more, and life is too short.

    Scorn is good. Put them up for ridicule. Remember in doing so that the media provide the finest case studies for morality in their most obnoxious products. In the story lines, in the lives of the celebrities behind them, like Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan, in the reflexive pandering to every destructive urge, in the baiting of the religiously observant, ad inifinitum.

    I fear that your efforts will serve to bring more notoriety to the project, resulting in more viewers. The depravity viewership is already oversaturated with viewing options, however, and new series offerings seem to have developed a far higher mortality rate than when I actually watched television thirty years ago.

    Regardless, I wish you well. It is a worthy crusade.

    I haven’t seen the Bible. I have a rule about Bible movies and lawyer shows. It just ain’t that easy.

    • #7
  8. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    I don’t think these sorts of petitions are all that helpful.

    What works is to find out whose ads run on the show, and send letters to the advertisers.

    • #8
  9. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Sisyphus:I finally got talked into screening the latest the Bible miniseries. Not impressed. Undoubtedly harmful. Way too condensed. To say more I would need to see more, and life is too short.

    Scorn is good. Put them up for ridicule. Remember in doing so that the media provide the finest case studies for morality in their most obnoxious products. In the story lines, in the lives of the celebrities behind them, like Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan, in the reflexive pandering to every destructive urge, in the baiting of the religiously observant, ad inifinitum.

    I fear that your efforts will serve to bring more notoriety to the project, resulting in more viewers. The depravity viewership is already oversaturated with viewing options, however, and new series offerings seem to have developed a far higher mortality rate than when I actually watched television thirty years ago.

    Regardless, I wish you well. It is a worthy crusade.

    Let me ask you a serious question. ?To someone completely unfamiliar with the Bible, might these movies act as aa stimulus to get them to delve deeper into scripture.

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    #8 MJBubba, just what I was thinking. My life is complicated enough right now. I could do with a list of products and services to start ignoring. I might even drop them a line to inform them of my decision. Drop a mention or two on social media as well. Tell my friends and family members with small children what kind of values ABC/Disney is pushing these days.

    • #10
  11. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Aw, crap. Disney is disgusting.

    Y’all know who this Dan Savage creepworm is, right? If not, get yourself a barf bag and start googling. He’s got a TV show? I mean, Disney’s been out of the closet at least since Tarzan, but this is incredible. No, actually, completely credible.

    Look, Savage is what he is – Larry Flint with a limp wrist and a lisp. What’s scary is the mainstreaming. I knew this was coming in the intellectual sense, but to see it is viscerally … disgusting. I despise Disney.

    Now, Ricochetti – this calls for a loud and proud Disney boycott. Across the board, including Star Wars. (Unless you pirate it so they don’t get a cut.)

    Please, somebody tell me I’ve got this all mixed up. I would sooo love to be completely off base, embarrassed, and have to take this back.

    • #11
  12. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    My paying any attention to Disney stopped with “Jungle Book” 1968….Timon and Pumbah creeped me out…

    • #12
  13. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Nanda Panjandrum:My paying any attention to Disney stopped with “Jungle Book” 1968….Timon and Pumbah creeped me out…

    I never saw Jungle Book. I have a vague memory of the nice lady whose kids I used to play with saying something about it, seems it gave her a bad vibe. In late retrospect, I suspect she previewed everything before taking her kids. Good woman.

    So I just now googled it. (Ok, I duck-duck-go’d it, cause Google creeps me out too.) And I find that teh gayz have been onto Disney since forever.

    • #13
  14. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Nobody in my family has TV, cable or otherwise. So we don’t watch any of this garbage. We all pulled out about 2 or 3 years ago.

    • #14
  15. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Devereaux:

    Let me ask you a serious question. ?To someone completely unfamiliar with the Bible, might these movies act as aa stimulus to get them to delve deeper into scripture.

    It is not beyond the realm of possibility, but it is also possible that they have whittled what little they present down so far that it reinforces the impression that the Bible is a simplified version of VeggieTales. The reviews I’ve heard on AD paint it as frankly bizarre, creating a character out of whole cloth to occupy St. Stephen’s story with him and painting Stephen as a reckless, immature boy. I think it is more likely that people watching this stuff will discount it on its merits and think that they have fairly sampled the (Real) Bible and found it wanting without ever cracking the book or visiting a real church.

    • #15
  16. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    The attacks have been going on for a while.  That they would make it to the small screen is no surprise.  It is a set up for the time when the other attacks, the legislative and judicial attacks come.  The target will have been maligned sufficiently for the unthinking, and the politically motivated, to excuse the attacks as justified.

    • #16
  17. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Sisyphus:

    Devereaux:

    Let me ask you a serious question. ?To someone completely unfamiliar with the Bible, might these movies act as aa stimulus to get them to delve deeper into scripture.

    It is not beyond the realm of possibility, but it is also possible that they have whittled what little they present down so far that it reinforces the impression that the Bible is a simplified version of VeggieTales. The reviews I’ve heard on AD paint it as frankly bizarre, creating a character out of whole cloth to occupy St. Stephen’s story with him and painting Stephen as a reckless, immature boy. I think it is more likely that people watching this stuff will discount it on its merits and think that they have fairly sampled the (Real) Bible and found it wanting without ever cracking the book or visiting a real church.

    Not having seen them, you may well be right. I was merely hoping there might be a good movie to somehow inspire people with no knowledge to learn more about the Bible.

    • #17
  18. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Not having seen them, you may well be right. I was merely hoping there might be a good movie to somehow inspire people with no knowledge to learn more about the Bible.

    It would only encourage people to read the Bible if the script writers stuck with the Biblical script. Most people have enough knowledge of the Bible to realize the films are for entertainment not for education.

    • #18
  19. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Devereaux:

    Sisyphus:

    Devereaux:

    Let me ask you a serious question. ?To someone completely unfamiliar with the Bible, might these movies act as a stimulus to get them to delve deeper into scripture.

    SNIP

    Not having seen them, you may well be right. I was merely hoping there might be a good movie to somehow inspire people with no knowledge to learn more about the Bible.

    Dev, I have seen it…Sisyphus is right. It’s just bizarre.  Stephen is a smart-aleck boy – and Paul is a bruiser ‘Gospel ninja’ – who’s ready to kick some unbelieving butt – unScriptural and truly strange…Sad, so much good could’ve come of it.

    • #19
  20. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Barfly:

    Nanda Panjandrum:My paying any attention to Disney stopped with “Jungle Book” 1968….Timon and Pumbah creeped me out…

    I never saw Jungle Book. I have a vague memory of the nice lady whose kids I used to play with saying something about it, seems it gave her a bad vibe. In late retrospect, I suspect she previewed everything before taking her kids. Good woman.

    So I just now googled it. (Ok, I duck-duck-go’d it, cause Google creeps me out too.) And I find that teh gayz have been onto Disney since forever.

    Barfly: In my defense, I was 11…It was the last  one Walt was involved with at all – and he died before it was finished…I agree wholeheartedly! Disney is an alternate universe.

    • #20
  21. Ricochet Moderator
    Ricochet
    @DougWatt

    Just when I thought Two and a Half Men finally died along comes another program that is just as bad. I keep a private boycott list. I’ll just give you two of the products on the list. Disney just made the list and unfortunately Guinness made the list last year. There are others but unfortunately I’m too lazy to produce the list for you, or fortunately depending upon your point of view.

    • #21
  22. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Doug Watt:Just when I thought Two and a Half Men finally died along comes another program that is just as bad. I keep a private boycott list. …

    I think my way is easier. I just keep a list of what I’m willing to watch. There’s Sullivan & Son which I might never have looked at without the Rob connection, Agents of SHIELD, which is a nice progression from my comic collecting in years agone, and Netflix’ Daredevil is an excellent dramatization of Frank Miller’s Daredevil from the days of my youth. And it has a credible Catholic flavor. Bones started with a good premise, and CSI: New York and Blue Bloods are watchable.

    As for media meets faith, Saving Grace was unwatchable filth. I just ran across Travel the Road on Netflix, but so far it’s an uninformative narrative with intriguing visuals from around the worlds. Maybe I’ll jump ahead to see if they improve. Supernatural I have sampled because others wanted to talk about its theology. Their Christian theology has been radically scrambled, but the names have been kept the same to annoy everybody. Perhaps even the producer’s final judge. Toasty.

    If I am missing something good here, please chime in.

    • #22
  23. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Well Justified just finished its last season. I rather liked the US Marshall, Raylan Gibbons, played by Timothy Oliphant. And Person of Interest, while a ridicuous premise, still has the good guys looking out for those at risk and destroying the bad guys.

    • #23
  24. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Re: 23, Dev, Jim Caviezal is a committed Catholic believer, who wants the show to reflect what you describe…He also says that the money he earns from it allows him to work in/produce films shows that more explicitly involve his Christian faith. I <3 Jim Caviezal, Gary Sinise and others for their creativity and bravery.

    • #24
  25. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    The last good series I watched was Lie to Me. People always tell me I should watch House, but I tried. The show and especially Hugh Laurie was a predictable formulaic bore. In House, they could say any BS and I’d never know (and they probably did.) Lie to Me was exaggerated, of course, but basically a true exposition of human nature. The first season was better than the later episodes – Tim Roth started overdoing the bouncing swaggering persona. Still excellent.

    Then there was Dollhouse. Man, oh, man, that one had me from the first ten minutes. Brilliant.

    Waiting patiently for the new Twin Peaks.

    • #25
  26. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Barfly:People always tell me I should watch House, but I tried.

    I’ve observed that what people always say you should watch mostly reflects who they think you are. In my case, Pi, Proof, and Shine have been the most common recs, though Amelie might now be poised to take the lead. And… I get it… Not entirely flattering, but I get it.

    And I think I see why people might say House for you.

    The show and especially Hugh Laurie was a predictable formulaic bore. In House, they could say any BS and I’d never know (and they probably did.)

    Eh, formulaic, yes. I prefer Jeeves and Wooster. But as Polite Dissent has cataloged, the medicine did not all suck, and anyhow absurdity is part of the fun. I’m not sure how much of House I’ve seen… Enough to know that the Tylenol in his Vicodin should have killed House long ago :-)

    Sometimes I watch a few House episodes… I find the protagonist and the formulaic stories a reasonable way to blow off steam about pain-management snafus.

    • #26
  27. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Hee hee. Maybe I need a Vicodin addiction.

    • #27
  28. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Or pseudo-addiction.

    • #28
  29. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    I stopped with House about Season 4; not respecting pro-life and Obama stickers in the staff bathroom. But, I recall an early ‘clinic’ scene: House bangs someone’s foot with his cane – and they apologize: ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were disabled.’ House replies: ‘I’m not disabled; I’m merely pathetic.’. It may be apocryphal, but I tried to have a shirt made.

    • #29
  30. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    Here is an organization that is trying to fight smut in the media:

    http://www.onemillionmoms.com/

    • #30
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