Absent is anything even resembling introspection about Jodie's decision to cheat. There is no real discussion about the pain of having your marriage fall apart. No talk about how the pain of broken marriages can be so horrible and overwhelming that it drives thousands of ordinary everyday people into deadly crimes of rage and passion. Certainly, there was no mention about the 60% of women who never cheat and remain true to their vows. Nor was there real comment about how broken marriages often sew a lifetime of confusion and fear into the children of divorces. In short, this seemingly reasonable, hard-news magazine presents virtually no look at all at the ugly reality of having your life ripped to shreds by infidelity.
Call it the "Sex and the City" effect. I am referring to the hit HBO TV series that depicts a wild pack of 30-something females hurling their bodies at whomever and whatever suits their whims. The show is a comedy. The sexually predatory behavior of the women suggests the freedom of pursuing your bodily needs without the oppressive social elements that for so long stifled women's sexual desires.
Whereas past literary concoctions tended to punish the cheating female - Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, Hester Prynne of "The Scarlet Letter" - with social disgrace, and sometimes death, for subverting the preeminent role of family in society, the new pop culture depictions passively glorify such behavior by matter-of-factly portraying it done by ordinary women while offering little comment or introspection.
Of course, this is somewhat disingenuous. Most Americans still consider marital infidelity to be a serious moral problem. So why the trend of depicting disintegrating family values with such casual ease?
In many ways, it seems our serious news outlets are now following television's lead. The cable TV network explosion created an incredibly splintered television market throughout the '90's. Amid this brutal competition, high mindedness became an afterthought.
The question became how to grasp the attention of an increasingly fractured audience. The answer came from media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who used his Fox television station to belch out one enormous orgy of tawdry and titillating television morsels. His populist model proved wildly successful. Soon others followed suit until gross self-parody and dark humor became the dominant currency for depicting popular culture on TV. Thus was television's anti-family agenda born - not out of a moral lapse as much as out of perceived economic necessity.
That this anti-family message is now slowly permeating even our so-called reasoned, hard-news outlets is not only morally reprehensible and culturally destructive, it is, artistically speaking, quite boring.
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