General Question

kenmc's avatar

Are Dane Cook, Michael Bay, and VH1's reality television the paradigm of American cultural stupidity?

Asked by kenmc (11763points) June 8th, 2009

What are your thoughts on the aforementioned people/things?

Are they making Americans more willing to accept garbage as entertainment?

Whatever happened to stand up comedians that made socio-political statements? Or film as an art form?

Whatever happened to television as a place for though-provoking shows like The Twilight Zone and The Prisoner?

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30 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

Yes. They are.
By the way, The Prisoner is returning.

kenmc's avatar

@AstroChuck

Oh, wow… That’s a bit overwhelming.

Thank you for that. Here’s something in return.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t know, but regarding your own ideas of garbage/stupidity as objective standards is surely a sign of American arrogance.

lillycoyote's avatar

Whoever the winner of the “paradigm of American Cultural Stupidity” is, is so yet to be determined… he/she/it/them are facing some very stiff competition and the field is too open, too varied and there are too many candidates. How could anyone possibly decide?

kenmc's avatar

@tiffyandthewall

I’m asking if you agree or disagree and your thoughts on the subject.

Arrogance? Possibly, but I won’t be ashamed of my opinions.

kenmc's avatar

@lillycoyote Who do you think is in the lead?

shadling21's avatar

Why oh why was Paris Hilton not mentioned yet?

kenmc's avatar

@shadling21 Ugh! Her and her ilk slipped my mind…

She’s one of the worst of all!

Ivan's avatar

No. Sarah Palin is the paradigm of American stupidity.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m thinking anyone who thinks these examples are any indication of the vast majority of the American culture in any way shape or form are the stupid ones. Most people realize slap stick entertainment for exactly what it is.

kenmc's avatar

@Ivan Paradigm of American political stupidity, yes.

But I wouldn’t say yes to American cultural stupidity…

kenmc's avatar

@YARNLADY You’d be surprised…

Ivan's avatar

@boots

Depends on what you mean by culture. Religious conservatism dominates much of American culture.

kenmc's avatar

@Ivan True, good point. Do you think it does in terms of pop culture?

Ivan's avatar

@boots

mmm I’ll have to think about that. I’m leaning ‘no.’

shadling21's avatar

@YARNLADY People calling people stupid, people calling those people stupid too… It’s an endless cycle.

I’d say that most of us are here to poke fun at certain entities, not actually evaluate their cultural worth (if such a thing even exists).

SarahPalin's avatar

my ear is ringing

dalepetrie's avatar

Different strokes for different folks. I have managed to resist all of these things (well, Dane Cook has told a couple of stories that made me laugh in his stand up routines, but he’s sure as hell no George Carlin…maybe a George Lopez, no more than that), I love movies with plot and substance, complex story lines, sprawling casts of characters who are related in ways that take the course of the film to make themselves apparent, with messages that can only be understood sometimes after days or weeks of reflection after seeing the film. I have been exposed to as many car chases as the next guy, and for my money, no matter how uniquely they are filmed, they are still just car chases unless they drive home a plot point (other than “the characters are being chased”, of course).

I’ve seen my share of horrible comics…for every one Richard Pryor there are 20 Dane Cooks or Carlos Mencias or Carrot Tops…for every Margaret Cho there are at least 10 Paula Poundstones. Yet, I recognize good, groundbreaking, culturally and historically relevant stand up comedy from the garbage that feeds the masses.

And though one can not get away from the fact that shows like American Idol and other shows which require no writers and are little more than armchair voyeurism, are viewed by more people than NBC’s last place but brilliantly written, best on television Thursday night lineup of the Office, 30 Rock and the now CANCELED My Name Is Earl COMBINED, these things DO still exist.

But one must realize that no matter how absolutely appalling one finds the 99% of what is out there which is pure, unadulterated garbage, that it is DESIGNED for those who are less discerning in their pleasures…it is designed for the (forgive me for sounding snobbish) commoner. They are not meant to be high culture, because the vast majority of people out there have no desire to think about their entertainment. The OVERWHELMING majority of people out there are really only looking for escapism, nothing more…and what sells is ALWAYS what will be produced.

And it has ALWAYS been this way. One could have posed this question in the 60s about the Monkeys…4 guys who were chosen for their looks to cash in on the success of the far more talented Beatles, put into a band even though they could not play instruments. The history of American popular culture is replete with crap becoming more successful than quality entertainment. Look no further than 1982. The #1 show on TV was Joanie Loves Chachi. Also on TV was the groundbreaking “Police Squad” which inspired 3 Naked Gun movies which defined a genre of American comedy…yet THAT show lasted all of 6 episodes. Or look to music, 1991, the #1 single on Bilboard that year was Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”. That was also the year of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” AND REM’s “Losing My Religion”.

So no, your examples are just the latest incarnation of a lowest common denominator culture. There will always be those of us with more refined tastes…some of us will produce great art and others among us will enjoy it. But we won’t be converted to fans of empty popcorn movies, camera crews following idiots and has beens, comedians without jokes or even sugary pop music. Nor will the majority of people who simply do not get why that which entertains them is garbage ever figure out what they’re missing. It’s not as though you’re going to take your average Joe to see Citizen Kane, and expect they’ll have a Flowers for Algernon moment the next time they pop in their DVD of Pearl Harbor. Let them have their garbage culture, the rest of us really just need to learn to tune out all the noise a bit better.

kenmc's avatar

@dalepetrie Amazing answer! I agree with most everything except for the Monkees, who actually did play their own instruments. They didn’t write the songs, I know, but did play the tunes.

Does it seem like there’s more ‘noise’ now or then?

dalepetrie's avatar

@boots – when the Monkeys GOT the show, none of them knew how to play, they all learned. Yes, they played the songs on the show, but they weren’t musicians….they were the 60s version of New Kids on the Block.

YARNLADY's avatar

@dalepetrie Peter Tork was a skilled multi-instrumentalist, had performed at various Greenwich Village folk clubs before moving west, Texan Michael Nesmith was a songwriter and guitarist who had recorded for Colpix under the name “Michael Blessing.”; Englishman Davy Jones had achieved some initial success on the musical stage; Micky Dolenz had been the 10-year-old star of the Circus Boy series in the 1950s and was a working actor, with a musical background. It was Dolenz’s voice that made the Monkees’ sound distinctive.

(Selected exerpts from the wikipedia article)

dalepetrie's avatar

Alright, I did have it wrong. To split hairs, Davy Jones was the only one of the 4 who “couldn’t” play an instrument. However for their first few years, none of them DID play any of their own instruments. Point still is, they were a manufactured pop group. Just like N’Sync. Which did produce the amazingly multi-talented Justin Timberlake. My point is, they were no Beatles, but they were meant to cash in on their success.

dalepetrie's avatar

Oh and btw @boots & @YARNLADY – thank you both for pointing out my error. I had heard that none of them could play my whole life, when really it was none of them “did” play. I always wished growing up for something like the internet, somewhere I could look something up if I wondered or wanted to confirm something I heard…makes me wonder how much of the “modern day folklore” (for lack of a better term) I learned in the 70s and 80s was corrupted in some way. Anyway, I appreciate it….you learn something new every day!

MissAusten's avatar

I love Dane Cook. And, I think he’s hot. runs and hides

Jude's avatar

I’ve only heard of Dane Cook. Not funny and rather annoying.

Aethelwine's avatar

@MissAusten I’m running and hiding with you.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Im watching Pitchmen right now. I want to cry. This is by far the worst show ive ever seen, yet i cant look away. WHY THE FUCK IS THIS A TV SHOW!?! Better yet, why the fuck is it on discovery channel?

seriously watch this shit

dalepetrie's avatar

@uberbatman – I’ll tell you what, that is about typical of the reality TV concepts that have been coming down the crap pipe for some time now. However, as painful as it was to watch the few minutes I could stomach, I actually now want to buy some What Odor? I’ve got a “problem” cat who I’d love to just open the door for one night and “forget” to let her back in, but it’s my 7 year old’s cat, so I just can’t do it. And even if I could, I’d have to go through my wife, so I’m stuck with a house that smells like cat piss. But maybe not anymore!

Ria777's avatar

one, keep in mind Sturgeon’s Law.

http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=39116

two, we have many television networks (and other media channels) now than in the ‘60’s. so you have a demand, if you can call it that, to make more crap.

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