I did not watch the Emmy's, the awards ceremony for the television industry. But I did watch the Oscar's last night. And I was struck by the commercials that were on during the Oscar's. There were a whole series of ads featuring Ellen Degeneres for JC Penny, which has a new campaign about simplifying the shopping experience: no more gimmicy 6am sales, no more hassles with returns, no more snotty sales clerks. I rather like JC Penny, and so I rather liked this new marketing campaign.

And I certainly liked the ads for JC Penny much more than the ads for the television shows. The Oscar's were broadcast on ABC, so ABC used some of the commercial spots to promote their own programming. One show in particular kept getting promoted, something called GCB, which I understand stands for Good Christian Bitches.

From the ads, the show features a group of women who regularly attend church in Texas, for the sole purpose of being able to say mean and nasty things about one another, sometimes to each other's faces and sometimes behind each other's backs.

Ever since I saw the first ad for this a few weeks ago, I have been thinking about how relentless television has become at offering to Americans more and more morally degenerate characters. At least with the crime shows that were big in the late 1990s and early 2000, where the seedy underside of life was highlighted, there was at least a veneer that the good guys would triumph. But lately, the shows have become more and more about a group of horribly amoral people who do nothing but belittle and undermine one another. Maybe the reality TV shows made this popular, maybe the shows about the mafia made this popular. I don't know. All I know is it is really reaching ridiculous dimensions now, and it needs to end.

But I must say, I think this is a television problem, and not an entertainment industry problem. Because what the Oscar's were about this year was a return to simpler values. A silent black and white film won. A story about mistreated working class people won in two categories. A foreign film showing everyday life in Iran won, a documentary about women who had been abused by their community won. All of these films stood for something, had a moral core about them. I noticed too that the dresses showed less skin, less cleavage, and were more about being elegant and beautiful than vampy.

So while television may want to keep forcing us down the road of more and more moral bankruptcy, I think a backlash is already developing. American seems to have hit moral bottom, and it is time to start working our way back up again.


Jono said…
I agree. Maybe television will take a hint from Hollywood, but I won't hold my breath. Long ago TV was described as a vast wasteland. It is even more vast now.

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