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We’ve Become a Society of Pop Culture and Keeping Up With the Kardashians

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
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Remember when the TV show Leave it to Beaver was the height of pop culture entertainment? About a nice family of four with good values? How far we’ve sunk since then. Now Americans watch all kinds of trashy shows and movies instead. Reality shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians portray a family with loose moral values who are famous only because one of the daughters made a sex tape and has an enormous behind. Yet millions of viewers watch this vapid family, who are not trained actors, regularly. It debuted in 2007 and is still going, as one of the longest-running reality TV shows ever. 

Movies are now geared to 12-year-old boys. They’ve become so loud and full of violence that they are intolerable to a large portion of the population. There’s been an increase in action-figure movies since they cater well to that young demographic. Rotten Tomatoes compiled a list of the best movies of 2019 so far and it is full of violent action-figure movies and horror movies. There are also movies like Sauvage, which takes a “non-judgmental approach” covering the journey of a male prostitute. Hail Satan? portrays a positive look at the Satanist movement. 

A friend of mine recently saw the new movie Midway. It’s a remake of a previous version, about the Battle of Midway which took place during WWII. He was disappointed because the new version did not stick to the original facts. Instead of chronicling the events, it followed a few primary characters and was merely loosely based on historical facts. He also noticed that the movie went over other aspects of Pearl Harbor, not just Midway, which was unlike the original version — as if the people watching the movie were too ignorant of the rest of that history and needed the background. 

The TV show Game of Thrones is listed as the third most popular TV show of 2019 by Tell Tales. The only thing I know about it is that it is prominent for many nude and sex scenes. The fifteenth most popular show is The Handmaid’s Tale, which deliberately confuses a Judeo-Christian country with a theocratic regime. Women are treated as property and forced to give birth. Mocking our Judeo-Christian heritage, one of the things that made this country great, has become popular entertainment. 

R&B gradually evolved into hip-hop and rap, which contain degrading lyrics about women and the glorification of violence. In 1989, the rap group 2 Live Crew released a song, Me So Horny, with disgusting lyrics about women. At the time, it created an uproar. Now? Rap groups regularly release songs with revolting lyrics and no one bats an eye. It’s become a part of the culture. Their latest fad is lyrics attacking the police. As if that’s something cool to do.     

A decline in reading continues. People are replacing books with smartphones. They are choosing to engage in chatting online over reading. They’re also watching a lot of TV and videos. Fewer people are patronizing the arts. The younger generations would rather sit at home on their smartphones. 

The use of pornography is increasing, no doubt due to the ease of looking at it on smartphones and the prevalence of free amateur porn. One young man brazenly told me, with no shame, that he prefers to watch porn over regular movies.  

More people are smoking marijuana. The percentage of users doubled over a decade, from 4.1% in 2001–2002 to 9.5% in 2012-2013. Users of hard drugs also increased, although not as much. But more people use hard drugs than use marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. About 24.5 million used hard drugs, compared to 19.8 million who used marijuana. Those people are probably not attending operas.

People drop swear words on social media like it’s no big deal. I find I cannot retweet a lot of so-called conservatives on Twitter because they use too much profanity. Twitter is also dumbing people down with its character limits on tweets. Gone are long words since they take up too many characters. Same with a lot of punctuation for the same reason. It’s hurting the English language. Why would anyone want to major in English anymore just to have it scrapped in one of the major areas where people engage in speech nowadays? A study found that using Twitter as an educational tool brought students’ test scores down. 

What can be done? Push back against the changes and elect conservatives to office. Pressure companies like Twitter into changing their policies. They don’t need to limit tweets to 280 characters. Put pressure on Hollywood to cut back on the trashy movies and shows. Some of this is already being done and making a dent in the deterioration of culture. But far more needs to be done. Too many people are complacently sitting on their couches doing nothing as the country declines around us. It’s a huge battle and there are a lot of powerful entities to take on, but the alternative is further decay and the decline of our once great civilization. 

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