I saw a particularly gruesome and vulgar episode of South Park that raised the bar on brilliant satire. The episode was about Britney Spears and was a commentary on celebrity obsession culture in the US media today. Britney is stalked throughout the episode and blows off the top 90% of her head. For the rest of the episode she is hustled around by a 4th grader (tongue loose) to escape te glare of the media. Nevertheless, not only does the media but an entre group of people finds Britney and shines the spotlight so bright that she collapses and dies. A conspiracy is revealed in the end in which US culture is compared to Mesoamerican cultures in which human sacrafice was done peridoically. It is said that we breed these helpless (hapless?) celebrities solely to destroy them in the end and maintain order.
What I find brilliant about thsi episode is not only the brillaint commentary about how obsessed with celebrity lives we are, but the comparison to human sacrafice. The creaters disregard any notion of political correctness and call out the hideous aspects of our culture in an explicit way.
This kind of look at our culture opens the door for a self-reflexive analysis that exposes our own culture as bare as it can get. It draws connections. Suddenly we see our own ways of life compared to something that we might consider both immoral and gruesome and savage.
This came to mind earlier this evening as I read a refreshing blog about the raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints in Texas. Most are quick to make judgements about polygamy and "cults," but are these things we define as wacko notions really so different from our own? The idea of mongamy in the US is fairly debunked. Serial monagamy at best, we might say. The fact is we change partners often and often commit to several at a time (even while enveloped in this sacred institution that is "marriage"). Placing celebrities on a giant public pedistal (TV) and watching their fall is tantamount to human sacrafice. We regulalry mutilate our bodies by injecting poison into our face and chopping up are breasts to conform to culturally accepted norms of beauty. Yet we are disgusted by female circumcision. We are quick to judge Muslim religious states, yet refuse to see the strong and often violent influence of Christianity in our own political and national actions. Plenty of various states are criticized for human rights violations while we practice state-sanctioned murder (death penalty anyone?) on a daily basis.
Who is more savage?
What do we need for the future? Money, success, a democrat in the White House? No. Hope? Ha!
Perspective. We don't need to discard our ideals and practice my level of moral relativism, but we do need perspective. A perspective to understand context and continuity.
5 weeks ago