How J-Low Can You Go?
I've been hearing complaints about the indecency of the Super Bowl halftime performances. What am I missing? Half naked women wiggling their back sides and writhing on a stripper's pole? This is the America we live in. This is mass entertainment at its best, the realization of the American Dream.
Does anyone really think there is some line that one one can draw between the pornograpny of cable TV and the pornography of the NFL? Of course there are differences between XXX porno flicks and the pop performances of Madonna, Britney, Lady Gaga, J-Lo, and Shakira, but the one thing that can be said in defense of hardcore pornography is that it is not on the Disney channel or part of the nation's most highly regarded religious ritual.
Man ist was man isst, as we learned in German I, but it is not only what we eat that degrades us. Fast-food destroys the body, but mass entertainment, in corrupting our taste, destroys our soul. A church that entertains its congregations with dancing, pop music, and the Muzak of Marty Haugen and company is serving Baal, not the God of Abraham and Isaac. It is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but the Church of Harvey Weinstein. When I saw clips from the halftime show, I thought immediately of the filthy orgies alluded to by H.P. Lovecraft in "The Horror of Red Hook."
Mass men and mass women enjoy degrading mass entertainment, and if you choose to be one of them, you forfeit the right to express moral outrage. There are alternatives to the culture of rape and death, and, paradoxically, the electronic media that fill our lives with violence and sadism can also be used to bring Haydn, Bach, and Shakespeare--or even George Shearing and John Ford--into our homes.
In the end, though, there is for civilized men and women a more radical strategy, which I encapsulated decades ago in a parody of Timothy Leary:
Turn off, tune out, drop in.