I’ll go tally the tears

January 29, 2009

The meek will inherit the earth, after which the cynical will stand back and mock them.

I came to that conclusion, amazingly enough, by being a fan of Survivor.

Observations of the human race based on a reality TV show might seem random at best — and just plain silly at worst — but lately it is from my perch on the couch that I’ve had my only view of my fellow Earthlings. Such is the lot of freelance writers and unpublished novelists who can seldom afford to venture much past the front gate.

With Survivor’s 17th season (Gabon) having concluded last night here in New Zealand (more than six weeks after its finale in North America, and barely two weeks before the 18th season is slated to begin in the more civilized parts of the world), I was finally able to return to Entertainment Weekly’s website without worrying about accidentally stumbling across spoilers that would ruin what little surprise still exists in my life.

And that’s when I started to worry about the future of the human race.

You see, Dalton Ross, EW’s self-proclaimed Survivor “expert,” baldly states that he dislikes both the Fallen Comrades and Family Visit sections of the show.

Maybe he finds them schmaltzy or overtly sentimental but his reaction is typical of Generation Whatever, that of poo-pooing anything the majority happens to be enjoying at the moment. The idea, of course, is to stand out by being in the minority.

If everyone else is cheering, Dalton is going to boo. If everyone else is wiping away a tear of happiness, Dalton is going to jeer. The subject matter doesn’t matter: He does it simply to be different, to be noticed for his negative noise.

Ross is also typical of the new breed of critics and writers whose schtick is to heap disdain on popular entertainment. These are the same people who are subsequently amazed at the proliferation of “sleeper” hits: movies that make millions despite bad reviews; TV shows that top the ratings even though they supposedly left reviewers dry-heaving.

I call their style contrary reporting and, frankly, it’s gotten old. It’s also gotten predictable.

Katherine Monk, a movie reviewer for the Vancouver Sun, hates action movies. That much has become obvious over several years and hundreds of trashed films. As a reader, I already know her opinion when I see her byline above any slice of celluloid bearing even a whiff of testosterone. And so I don’t even bother finishing the review. Why waste my time when I already know she is just going to bash it with her purse and her heels for being insensitive and lacking any social value.

But Monk is simply representing the sisters. Dalton Ross’s attitude is another kettle of sneers altogether.

If we lose our ability to sympathize/empathize, if everything in life is meant to be pointed at and laughed about and waved off as stupid or inane, what does that say about us as people?

If we’re not allowed to shed a tear or three when some dirt-caked, food-deprived reality show contestant gets to hug their spouse after three weeks of hardship in a remote jungle, then we have lost an essential part of what separates us from the beasts. And I’m not just talking about the ability to type.

Dalton Ross and his ilk may think they are somehow above the stinking masses who revel in this kind of TV. They may think they are too professional to be sucked in by manipulative editing and slick production values. That they are too intelligent to be entertained by anything geared towards the lowest common denominator.

Their opinions bear no resemblance to anything honest or heartfelt. Rather, they come across as pretentious and self-inflated and shallow. The phony mocking the phony.

They may think themselves somehow aloof and sophisticated and superior, but need I remind them that “cool” rhymes with “fool.”

Now excuse me while I go watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. That Ty Pennington makes me bawl like a baby every time.

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One Response to “I’ll go tally the tears”

  1. Lily said

    …”‘cool’ rhymes with ‘fool'” he he, love it!

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