We produce what we consume

Mar 2, 2018 by

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The other day, I was watching over my wife’s shoulder at a video on Facebook. It was a bunch of celebrities speaking up for gun control in the aftermath of the Florida shootings. Ho hum. These sorts of videos are ubiquitous in the aftermath of tragedy. In a culture gorging itself upon entertainment, to whom else would we turn for moral advice, advocacy, solace, confirmation of our confused ethics, etc. than our entertainers? And how else could we be expected to digest such morsels of support and confirmation and solace but via entertainment?

I paused and considered the depressingly comical insanity of our cultural moment.

  1. The two issues that seem to be dominating the news and our attention these days are gun violence and sexual abuse/exploitation/impropriety.
  2. And at the same time, many of us regularly feed on an entertainment industry that serves up to us a generous portion of both of these things.

Sex and Violence.

Sex and Violence.

Sex and Violence.

Many of the celebrities who are speaking up for the victims of sexual misconduct, or who are adding their voices to the demand for tougher gun legislation are the very same ones who have profited enormously from bringing these very things, in lurid and graphic and gruesome detail, to our screens and our headphones. And, in a final triumph of perverse irony, we seem to listen!

I’m obviously not by any means the first to notice or point out this irony that would be almost laughable, were its effects not so dire. And I’m not saying that celebrities are the only people whose voices we turn to as we attempt to come to terms with these two issues that dominate the landscape at present. But the fact that we do so at all, is telling. The people whose voices we listen to and admire and lean on in the wake of unrestrained and seemingly uncontrollable sex and violence are often the very same ones we have turned into millionaires for their ability to entertain us with…

Sex and violence.

We demand sex and violence, often in pretty shocking and degrading forms, from our cultural products and then we are horrified and outraged to see them show up in real life. And then we look to the industry that has obediently given us what we ordered and normalized all of this to articulate our outrage or to “speak up” for the victims. The absurdity and incoherence of it all sometimes borders on the breathtaking.

Ryan Dueck is pastor of Lethbridge Mennonite Church in Lethbridge, Alta., Canada. He writes at Rumblings, where this post first appeared.

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