A Whimper or A Bang? Contemplations on the End of the World

As anyone will tell you, there are many problems with the world today. For instance, if you look up, you’ll notice a grotesque gray swamp attempting to pawn itself off as spring. The short skirts the girls were just beginning to sport for the good weather have been replaced, once again, by warmer, considerably more boring attire. God (that phantasmorgial trickster, that sly vapor, that jerk) has once again pulled a fast one on us humans. Just when it looked like spring was about, He, quite literally, dropped another shit storm on us.

But this column isn’t about God. It isn’t about the weather. It isn’t even about skirts. But, now that I mention it, the weather in Utah is oddly, dare I say, isomorphic of women. For instance, when you first meet a girl, she is warm and welcoming; the clouds spread apart, and just when you believe that the time and season is right for reproductive habits, the clouds close, and she turns cold.

But this column isn’t about women either. No. There’s something more sinister at work in society than the weather or the women. T.S. Elliot once said that the world will not end with a bang, but a whimper, and two recent incidents strike me as particularly foreboding of such a sniveling apocalypse.

Television sucks. Those who don’t understand that television sucks simply watch too much of it. Television, like gonorrhea, is introduced to a person in a most delightful manner (perhaps while watching Friends or The West Wing) and then continues to infect the person to the point that they can never get rid of the disease. One must be careful in watching television, lest he or she develops the couch-potato fever and spends the rest of her days mindlessly probing channels for different ways to further prevent her brain from ever flexing its already atrophying muscles.

There are few shows or sitcoms worth the time it takes to force one’s self through the bombardment of commercial propaganda (commercials, as I believe they are commonly called). But “Politically Incorrect”?one of the only shows on television promoting social awareness and democratic debate?has been shoved back until the wee hours of the morning. In its place? A new show by the increasingly fat and sentimental Oprah Winfrey. So, instead of a show which perpetuates social awareness and allows people to think about issues, we have Oprah’s new show?which perpetuates only more hopeless self-help blabbing and tender pats-on the-back for everyone.

Oprah is taking over the world.

I recall, not four years ago, when, in Barnes and Noble, there was only a “New Fiction” and “Recommendation” section near the front of the store. Now, because of Oprah’s hug-the-world sentimentality, the “New Fiction” and “Recommendation” sections have been reduced to make room for “Oprah’s Book Club.” Now, I’ve read two or three books recommended by “Oprah’s Book Club” and not one of them was as insightful or engaging as the classics often recommended by the Barnes and Noble employees.

Therefore, Oprah frightens me.

She represents all that is wrong with optimistic, sentimental babble. She is the paradigm of what George Carlin calls the “pussification of America.” And now she has replaced one of the only television shows I found to be intellectually engaging. Bill Maher, with his liberal ferocity and unique style, has been pushed aside to make way for the bigger (both literally and figuratively speaking) and better Oprah Winfrey.

But Oprah is not the only force forging our way towards Elliot’s whimpering apocalypse. No. Let me tell you a story.

A mother bought her son a video game for the Playstation. She believed this particular game was suitable for her son because, on the box, it said “E” for “Everyone.” However, three months later, she saw what her son was playing and was disgusted at its content. She then sued the video game company and won.

So, if I understand this correctly, parents are now allowing a letter on a box to do their parenting for them. I mean, isn’t it plausible that this mother should have been spending a bit more time with her son? Certainly, after three months, she could have sat down and seen what her son was doing?what game had so enamored her son for the past three months.

But then, I’m a bit opposed to ratings in any fashion. Stamping a scarlet letter on a movie or a video game is simply letting someone else do the thinking?or in regards to children, the educating?for you.

I’m wondering how lazy contemporary parents are becoming. They rely upon the MPAA and video game companies to decide what is appropriate for their children. Soon enough, I’ve decided, we’ll all have barcodes, and parents can simply scan us and decide whether or not we should interact or not with their children. Or perhaps, with the advance of technology, someone will invent a computer chip that can be placed inside a child’s brain that will prevent him from ever engaging in something his parents disapprove of.

God, I love commercialism masquerading as democracy! I can’t wait for the day in which ratings are, at last, slapped on books, so that the classics of literature can no longer be discussed in schools, so religions can forbid their followers from reading the legitimate viewpoints of other persons.

But I digress. This column started off with some light hearted comments regarding short skirts, spring, and lousy weather. But, like our local weathermen, I worry about the validity of forecasting. Perhaps pushing “Politically Incorrect” to a time when only the drunk insomniacs will see it is not utilizing the show to its full potential. Perhaps these rating systems we keep applying to the media, while seemingly harmless, are actually decreasing the amount of effort and time parents put into parenting. Perhaps T.S. Elliot was wrong. Perhaps the world will neither end with a bang nor a whimper, but with a yawn?the yawn of a country grown bored with true democratic deliberation.

Or perhaps it will simply end with lots of girls in short skirts.

I’d prefer the latter.

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