Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Moral Inversion, Part II - TV, Then and Now

I was recently privileged to view The Colgate Comedy Hour with Abbott and Costello from the Christmas season of 1952. I say privileged even though I never liked Abbott and Costello. More, the production values were, to be generous, bad, the jokes were lame, and the skits amateurish and corny.

Even so, I maintain it was better than just about anything you'll see on TV today. The reasons revolve as much around what it lacked as what it contained.

There wasn't any gratuitous sniggering at mankind and its achievements. There wasn't any sneering at the cast members or the audience. Everyone showed respect and good will for all present. Even the musicians — all of whom were mediocre at best — did their best to entertain (accomplished without screeching, I note) and no one felt the need to mock them.

Two acts in particular stood out as really remarkable.

One, a dance team, consisted of a gargantuan homosexual with a bad hairpiece (who appeared, Frankenstein-like, to have been put together from parts) and his partner, a female midget ballerina. Yet, far from being presented either as morose freaks or representatives of mankind, they were both simply graceful, cheerful, and outstandingly skilled. They were clearly very happy to be performing for a grateful audience and their dance routine was superbly choreographed and executed.

The other was an acrobatic act performed in vaudeville-like baggy clothes, no clown makeup needed. They whirled around and jumped across a ten-foot-long, six-foot-high set of monkey bars. The pair were, in a word, amazing. They, too, never felt the need to present themselves or their routines as freakish or dark in the manner of, say, the Blue Man Group or Cirque du Soleil.

Equally good were the Christmas Seals commercials containing such classy stars as Ray Milland, Ingrid Bergman, and Gary Cooper. I've walked out of movie theaters that felt compelled to hound me for donations for AIDS research. But I watched these sincere, polite, informative requests to support tuberculosis research and treatment — a disease that only 60 years ago was a serious nationwide problem, now virtually wiped out in America — and felt a real tug at the heart.

Best of all, there was no multicultural slap in the face at everything the average American valued and no pseudo-liberal preaching anywhere in sight.

By contrast, an utterly revolting contrast, America's favorite show — NCIS — displays exactly what happens when post-moderns pollute mainstream culture.

I've watched the show for years and generally liked it. Still, there's no arguing that it has always been a series of stereotypes, mouthing clich├ęs. For the most part, that's just television today. Far worse, though, is what the show has become: a mouthpiece for Progressive dogma.

In a recent episode a corn-fed American Marine converts to Islam and soon becomes a murder victim. Unlikely as that is, it's not impossible or necessarily absurd, however ridiculous it might be. But what happens next is the real crime.

As the NCIS crew investigate the crime they soon interview the soldier's father, a highly conflicted Christian preacher. Ok, fair enough, so far. A dad like that might very well be upset that his son chose to become a Muslim — in the middle of a freaking war against jihadists.

But, since this is Progressive propaganda rather than genuine drama, they have to turn him into a raving bigot and the most likely murder suspect. Sure, every disappointed dad is first in line as the perpetrator of a 'hate crime' against his own son, don't ya know?

Still worse was the portrayed contrast between a group of thuggish jarheads at a bar and the oh-so-refined, reasonable, and long-suffering Muslim Navy 'chaplain'. Again, since this is left-wing propaganda, it's essential that the pool-playing Marines be utter assholes and the Islamic religious figure be the quintessence of gentle, yet manly virtue.

Not too many years far back anti-Romantic School aestheticians used to complain that the chief flaw in Romantic art was that it lacked 'realism'. No such problem appears to trouble them now.

The starkest example of that total absence of verisimilitude was in a scene between the Muslim chaplain and Zeva, the Israeli ex-Mossad agent. It's one thing for her to flatten a group of misbehaving Marines in a bar. She's a trained assassin, after all. It's quite another to have her interview the Muslim preacher, who spouts a lot of lying drivel about Islam, and never have this Jewish woman blink the tiniest objection. On the contrary, she seems instantly to regard this fellow as a real friend and ally in the struggle against prejudice.

The complete un-reality demonstrated by that NCIS episode was fully on display, yet no doubt the script was cheered by the current producers. Worst of all, I'm dead certain the pragmatist advertisers supporting the show are either indifferent or cowed into silence.

"Dreck" doesn't begin to capture the nausea-inducing atmosphere of the 'new' NCIS, since Bellisario was forced out of the show by Mark Harmon.

So, from now on, I'll be limiting my TV viewing — like I have with films for years now — largely to pre-1965 productions. I never observed the heroes in Rat Patrol or Combat say the American Bund Nazis were just misunderstood fellow freedom fighters. I won't even skip the commercials.

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