Before the Olympics coverage tonight NBC had a segment with Tom Brokaw about the British experience during WWII. It was such a great profile about the trials and difficulties faced by the British during the war. And it was so striking that each commercial break began with a commercial for “The Voice” or “America’s Got Talent” or some other talent-based reality show. Not that talent isn’t great, and not that singing and the arts aren’t important, but it was so sad. It was so stupid and it perfectly illustrated the contrast between the kind of life we live here compared with the lives of others. Young men with barely any experience and little training flew airplanes and bombed Germany in the RAF, families were bombed out of their homes in London, men, women, and children were killed, food was rationed and they barely had anything to eat. And then on the commercial for America’s Got Talent one of the judges referred to someone as, “everything that is great about America right now.” I’m sorry, but isn’t this pathetic? That person is what’s great about America because they can sing??!?!?!?!
Maybe you had to watch it, but the contrast between the content of the program and that of the commercials was so striking. Was this what they were fighting for? I suppose so, in a way, that brave men and women were fighting so that generations to come could live their lives and pursue their dreams, whatever they may be. But these shows have cheapened everything; reduced our lives into soundbites, sob stories that can be taken advantage of for entertainment and ratings.
It’s great that people like to sing, dance, compete in athletics, etc. And maybe this is a result of problems that I have always had with these reality shows. But it shows the extreme contrast between what was important to us as a nation in the past, and what is important now. Let’s face it, a lot of people care more about these dumb reality shows than what is going on in Iraq. People are more educated about what is happening on their favorite reality show than they are about what is going on in Iraq. Isn’t that sad? I bet more than half of Americans couldn’t even correctly locate Iraq on a map. Granted, we all need entertainment and we can’t be all doom and gloom all the time, but are singing competitions really what’s great about America?
Isn’t there something better? Shouldn’t we try to be better than this? My grandfather’s generation was called “The Greatest Generation” for a reason. The old people in my family were all so interesting. They had amazing lives. My grandfather was a paratrooper in WWII. Could you *imagine* doing that? Just think about it for a minute. He JUMPED OUT OF AN AIRPLANE (decidedly not for fun). And then he came home from the war, married my grandmother, and started a home. They had a fabulous garden, grew most of their own produce, raised chickens and rabbits, he had a wood shop, and oh he worked in a steel mill by day. Pappy’s father made violins in his spare time, just because. My grandmother’s mother still made all of her pasta from scratch when she was in her 80s.
What can I say about myself? What do I do? What will my grandchildren say about me in admiring, hushed tones? That I wrote awesome facebook updates? That I read a ton of blog posts? That I watched hours of tv, ate out all the time because I was too lazy to make anything myself, and managed to spend no time speaking with my family because we all huddled up in front of our own screens?
I guess now that I’m a mom I spend a lot of time thinking about leaving a legacy for my children and I want it to be something worthwhile, not just a soundbite.