josh (joshc) wrote,

  • Music:
Since I can't sleep, here's a paragraph from the Tom Bissell essay in The Believer about Reality Television:

My feeling is that not a few viewers used Joe Millionaire the way many of us sometimes use talk radio. That is, to provide a terrifying little reminder of how dumb, misled, and wrongheaded seventy-five percent of the American public routinely appears to be. This is helpful to remember when one finds oneself counting on one's countrymen to see through the cheap populism of various elected officials or to reject the tacitly impossible conspiracy theories of the Right and Left. It is not that Americans are stupid. All of us are stupid about somethings, and Americans are probably the most educated people on the planet (terrifying thought!). But the America reliably on talk-radio display is so unbelievably strident about the things it is stupid about. It is an America with a profound disinterest in everything yet an America that still manages to have an opinion about everything, an American plagued with a shallow shitty cynicism, and above all an America with an evangelical determination never to have its mind changed. As I say, these things are helpfully remembered whenever one wishes to avoid disappointment. Joe Millionaire had a similar kind of effect, but what one was being reminded of was the basic cultural impossibility of large numbers of either sex ever managing to understand one another.

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