I caught a few minutes of Chris Rock yesterday. What used to be talked about in hushed tones by drunken men in the back of dimly lit bars in the bad part of town is now on cable. Chris Rock has reduced male-female relationships to the equivalent of prostitution, dealmaking and material possessions. Marriage, from the man’s point of view, is the simple realization that even if he divorces his wife, he’ll go through the same thing with the next one, so he’ll just stay and “be miserable” with the one he’s with. Profound? No. Funny? No. Insightful? No. This filth is still labeled comedy. And, as if to remind his audience of their job, Chris laughs after certain lines. This is not comedy. It is the gospel of superficiality. Of being chained to the flesh and being led around by it. He tells stories about using other people and being used by them. It is nihilistic. It is dark and depressing.
Then ABC, who decided partial nudity and profanity were required on NYPD Blue, now brings us Cougar Town, which a few have labeled as “too dirty for TV.” The role Courtney Cox began to play in Friends is now taken to another level, and bit by bit, more elements of porn appear on network TV. A line needs to be drawn. If we do not speak up, some will say, “Hey? What’s the big deal? Nobody complained.” Indifference and disinterest as part of a clear marketing campaign for more and more explicit ‘sexual situations’ will just lead to graphic porn on TV.
Stand up for what is right. Ignore the Dictatorship of Relativism which recognizes no boundaries except the absolute that there is no truth. On the web site of Grey’s Anatomy, life is portrayed as shades of grey. The greys are becoming darker now.
Right on …we are in the midst of an attack!..this attack is undermining our moral values,socializing our economy and trashing our American pride and heritage! Error is on the throne and Truth trampled underfoot. and the comments we who oppose such are that we are ‘haters’ and ‘intolerant’ . We must fight back by letting the advertisers know we wont purchase their products and we wont swallow the low lifes morality as you so wisely stated. God bless you in your post…Pas
This is news that comedians use “blue” material on cable? It has been on HBO since the early 80s. Potty mouth comedians used to make “party records” and do nightclub shows many decades ago. People who didn’t want to hear that type of comedy kept their money in their pocket. People who don’t like the material on cable can keep their money and buy a digital converter box or block the channels that carry those type of comedy shows like Comedy Central and keep the rest of their cable package. Honestly, this is nothing new and there are plenty of people who predate Chris Rock who did far more filthy material and still do. If you want your ears to burn off catch even a couple of minutes of one of those “roasts” on Comedy Central. I did before I knew what they were about and they made Rock look like a Sunday School teacher.
Chris Rock is talking over the heads of what might be termed a general audience and to African-American males in “I Think I Love My Wife.” He’s an investment banker who is stalked by a leggy former schoolmate. He battles the notion that living out family values is whites-only territory. The pro-marriage theme is overt and covert. Yes, this gorgeous woman could sabotage his marriage and job. But there’s more.
Rock goes on to explore all the ennui, indifference and even civilized cruelty that can creep into long-term marital relations and helps us conclude that love is at the core, and home and family make self-sacrifice and self-restraint well worth the effort. This is a theme that Hitchcock subtly explored in many of his movies, the love-hate that appears at the surface of between family members, and the deeper, heroic, overriding patience and forgiveness that sustains them amidst the chaos of the world.
Rock was known in his neighborhood and within his family as a stabilizing force. “Everybody Hates Chris” is his broadcast offering that humanizes the characters in his childhood without the kids-last, disdainful, passive-aggressive nastiness of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Moms and dads love their kids, kids do goofy, dangerous things, parents set boundaries, and all are united as family within a community of families. That’s the rock beneath Chris Rock.
There’s a subterranean agenda in Rock’s shows, movies and in his raw humor. It’s exploring all the stupid stuff a modern men and women can get involved in and it acts as a powerful subliminal warning. Don’t do it, man, it’s not worth it. It’s Rock’s message, his medium, and it worked for him and one can only hope it works for an audience that has already swept past preachy, Baptist upbringings and absentee fathers. He grabs the modern African-American culture, and it is vulgar, and shows that catting around is dangerous and putting up with the foibles of one’s spouse is ultimately something to laugh about, not laughable. Where a motto hasn’t work–stay married–Rock’s humor steps in.
Rock’s work is infinitely more worthy of one’s attention than Jay Leno’s “cleaner” comedy that has included lascivious comments about Catholic schoolgirls in their short, plaid skirts; or David Letterman’s “cleaner” comedy with a vicious sexual reference to Sarah Palin’s daughter; or Whoopi Goldberg’s “cleaner” comedy from a woman that has endorsed child rape. Chris Rock has character, and his adult humor has a message, one springing from his gritty life experience, not spewing forth from the inner perversion evinced in the work of others and sanitized for your protection.
As a Catholic, I would rather spend an hour or two listening to a Baptist preacher giving me the truth instead of the raw sewage I hear coming out of the mouths of some of these people. Others are dirtier than Chris Rock? I don’t think so.
Trying to turn his rants into nuanced, intellectual philosophy told in a language designed for black people? That’s nonsense. His use of language is all about “Can you love the profanity? Can you talk like me and love it?” It reminds me of a sig line I saw somewhere: “Embrace the darkness, it needs a hug.” Let the darkness alone and go back and listen to your preacher.
Catholics who squander their time watching deplorable and morally reprehensible TV programmes and films ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Not only is such unmitigated filth mind polluting and time consuming, but it can excite unholy and unwholesome thoughts that can be the occasion of many hurtful lusts and sins. How can one one sit passively watching scantily attired (often naked) men and women engage in pre-marital sex and other sins of the flesh and remain unscathed spiritually? - " Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be scorched"? (Proverbs 6: 27). Bearing in mind our Church’s teaching on fornication and chastity, I just cannot understand how Catholics of all people can sit in front of their TV sets and watch this unbridled ribaldry.
Furthermore TV shows like Seinfield and The Simpsons promote not only immorality but also encourage a frivilous and hedonistic approach to life, the latter show idolising so called “nerd humour”; they are blatantly and essentially about the selfish pursuit of ones happiness at the expense of everything and everyone else. I would contend that since they are contrary to everthing that we hold dear as Catholics, they and this depraved Chris Rock show ought to be denounced in the strongest of terms since they are an offence to decency and good taste and are unworthy and base forms of entertainment. Given a diet of junk like this it is hardly surprising that our youth on both sides of the pond are turning out the way they are these days: challenging tradition and accepted social mores, unprecedented insubordination to parents and those in authority, severe attitude and behavoural problems, often issuing in aggression and violence - need I continue?
I make no apology for sounding like a moral crusader for the New Testament tells us to counsel our brethren if we see them going astray, exhorting them to amend their wayward ways, out of love for them and concern for their immortal souls. Now if this renders one a joyless prig or Puritan prude, then I plead guilty as charged.
Clearly Christians who are striving to “keep themselves unstained by the world”, to quote St. James, will give these morally repugnant shows a very wide berth indeed. Sadly it is becoming all too common, I have witnessed it on numerous occasions on CAF, to engage in a sort of eristic style of arguing and to finely nuance what are clearly black and white issues into grey areas where the issues are supposedly not so straightforward. This has a tendency to make those with decided opinions appear dogmatic, irrational, illogical, evasive or perhaps an even worse kind of monster! This is very worrisome, as it is the prevailing attitude amongst the young of our day, save for some rare exceptions of course. I suppose it is the fallout from our post-modern morally relativistic culture.
Bless God for those Catholics who have not defiled their garments by surrendering to the spirit of the age. Catholics need to think long and hard about what their priorities are, this life or the life to come; the fashion of this world is passing away beloved, why be a partaker of its sins - “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renoewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12: 2).
Warmest good wishes,
PS. I would rather spend all day listening to fundamentalist Baptist preachers like Peter S. Ruckman than pollute my mind, even for five minutes, with morally obscene TV shows and films.
Thank you for your reply. I work in the media and have a ringside seat to what is going on. I scan the latest media news almost daily. The deals being made. The trends being fashioned. Darkness has been a feature of a lot of trendy popular culture. Even comic books are not immune. I recently cringed at a cover to Dark X-Men. Heroes who are not heroic, giving in to their darker sides. How pathetic. Cartoons, which were once aimed only at kids, have perverse and even obscene elements. But all of this happened very gradually over a 40 year period. At first it was off color, a little risque, a little bawdy. Had we gone from 1969 to 2009 overnight, everyone would have been up in arms. As it was, the routine and addiction of turning on the TV was so deeply ingrained. It was free (until recently). It was always there. Just turn it on.
We all need to walk away. To think on those things which have some virtue. To do those things that are acceptable to God.
Yes indeed, the rot from the permisive 1960’s is now, I fear, bearing a terrible and bitter harvest, especially here in the western world where we have unprecedented decadence. The corruption has been very insidious but also quite unmistakable. Look at the likes of Johnathan Ross here in the UK, why the BBC has to edit out his all too frequent expletives, and yet for this he demands a grossly exorbitant salary that cannot be justified on any reasonable grounds, he is vastly overpaid. The fact that a lot of people find him a “cool” and funny entertainer, is only a sure indication of the depths to which we have so sadly plummeted in recent years. The usual response is that peoples tastes and standards of what is decent and in good taste evolve and change - this is self-evident fact they say. To support their argument they give the hackned example of the Victorian era when a glimpse of a womans ankle was scandalous. Surely this could argue for our case equally in that this could simply be an evidence of a decline in moral standards, things just getting progressively worse with the passage of time. Just where will we be in 20 years time? it does’t bear thinking about doea it?
What is so terribly lamentable though is to hear Catholics, even on these Forums, defend this type of TV show and many other shameful shows that ought not once to be named by those who call themselves Christians. Some are fond of saying that our Church is not and never has been a Puritan religion and that there cannot be any “blanket rule” as regards TV shows/films - for what is to one morally unacceptable to the other is perfectly alright and permissiblet. The analogy is usually then drawn from St. Paul who did not tell his followers as a blanket rule that none of them could eat meat owing to the fact that it might cause difficulty with some. Now it seems to me that one could argue and justify almost anything from such reasoning; indeed it seems the perfect argument for moral relativism!
Would you agree that such reasoning is invalid anyway when we take into account the analogy of faith - by examining what St. Paul says elsewhere in the N.T., for instance, about not conforming to the world.
By the way just what is about Puritanism that seems to cause the red mist to descend where so many Catholics are concerned; actually I think Catholicism with its ascetic tradition has a great deal in common with Puritanism - both are concerned about living a godly, righteous and sober life and certainly avoiding anything that is morally objectionable. Sorry but I do not see the problem; or is it that the Puritans were very other worldly whereas many Catholics are very this worldly and therefore want to discredit them by holding them up to contempt because they make them feel guilty and uncomfortable?
Thank you, Portrait, for your words of encouragement. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, the outer society, my neighborhood, relected the values I had been taught. Doors were closed but not locked at night. Neighbors were indeed friendly and helpful. There were a few bad apples but my parents simply told me to stay away from them and not to bother them. Of course, we had crime. I’m not saying it was perfect.
Television had characters on it I could relate to. Television stations had Standards and Practices Departments. In fact, a gentleman would appear on TV to assure viewers that everything shown was reviewed to make certain it was suitable for the entire family. At the end of the day, a film was shown of a beautiful silver jet flying through the air. A poem was read that ended with, “and I touched the face of God.” Christmas was incredible. The decorations were elaborate. A nativity was outside of the City Hall. But one day, someone woke up and said you can’t have that there. No one was required to look at it or bow to it or leave money in it. Suddenly, all public memorials dedicated by the people had to be removed by the fascist ACLU, so that their view, under the mantle of protecting the people from government sponsored religion, could be presented to the common man as “we’re protecting your rights.” Nonsense.
As far as the media, I invite you to read this encyclical:
“NYPD Blue” was one of the, if not the, best cop shows ever made. It was better than Hill Street Blues. It was better than Miami Vice. It was the only accurate cop show that depicted the ugliness that our law enforcement agencies faced on a daily basis - which, yes, includes even in their personal lives. I only wish silly shows like “Dragnet” - “just the facts, ma’am” - could have been as smart and well-written. I don’t know any law enforcement, including Catholic cops, military, etc., who didn’t love that show. I wanted to be a cop when I watched that show as an adolescent: are there any shows today that inspire kids to want to be cops? I don’t think so.
It was ugly and degrading. It portrayed women as sex objects. As a professional writer of fiction, I heard from “artists” in the late 1960s how they wanted their “freedom.” Yeah, even back then I knew what they meant: show some skin. Dragnet wasn’t “smart”? That’s the new buzz word, isn’t it? Dragnet was about the facts. When Joe Friday told a drug dealer what illegal drugs do to people he was talking to every kid watching. Television should be entertaining not pornographic. I don’t need to see the bare butts of the actors involved. No one does. It does not advance the story. Being a cop does not involve showing your butt on TV. One of my friends is a cop.
Hundreds of episodes that aired from 1993 to 2005, and all you want to talk about is Dennis Franz’s butt? You’re kidding, right? To paraphrase the famous Oscar Wilde quote, there are no immoral TV shows, only immoral viewers. No, “smart” isn’t a buzz-word. It’s an adjective that describes the level of sophistication of characterization. If you want simplistic, white-hat, black-hat storylines that a baby could understand, maybe write in a pie thrown in a face or two, that’s your prerogative. “Dragnet” was a punchline to a joke, not to mention it preceded the establishment of reading the Miranda Rights. For a “professional writer of fiction,” you seem to have a very dim view of your own profession, if you don’t mind me saying so. (And I’m guessing you don’t think much of Steven Bochco.) Might you be happier in a different career? I’m just sayin’…
I don’t do Hollywood writing, never will. My brief look at what goes on there has removed all the sparkle and glitter. I’m in the media because that is where God planted me. Just beause something ran for a long time, and showed male and female butts, does not make it worth watching.