April 2010
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Mindless Entertainment

Sometimes when I watch television, I’m in the mood for truly profound enrichment of my life. And, once in a while, one can indeed find excellent documentaries, great drama, and enchanting music.

But let’s face it – that is not why most folks watch TV. Even the most utterly earnest, humorless, Birkenstock wearing, bike riding, pony tailed hippies occasionally move the dial off PBS.

Because what we really want is mindless entertainment. We want to wallow in the shallowness of Dancing with the Stars. We long for the prurience of those Desperate Housewives, or the Real Housewives of (fill in the blank). Or we go for the epitome of pointlessness, Glee.

Glee is to serious music what Jacqueline Susann is to serious literature. It’s a show that stubbornly refuses to suspend disbelief. It offers us caricatures, not characters, and plots that can only be described as profoundly silly. It’s Kentucky Fried Movie, not Citizen Kane. And that’s the whole point. Glee is an excuse to sing pop songs and show tunes with really nice harmonies and schmaltzy choreography. It’s a show that leaves us feeling like we did whenever we heard “Walkin’ on Sunshine” back in the 80′s.

[Glee's creator, Ryan] Murphy intended the show to be a form of escapism, explaining: “There’s so much on the air right now about people with guns, or sci-fi, or lawyers running around. This is a different genre, there’s nothing like it on the air at the networks and cable. Everything’s so dark in the world right now, that’s why Idol worked. It’s pure escapism.” (Wikipedia)

All of which makes Tuesday’s episode even more perplexing. Early in the show, there were two interjections of politics into what was supposed to be escapism. First, there was the canard dropped by one of the Cheerios that, as an example of how women are under-appreciated, they make only 70 cents for every dollar men make for the same work. More on this later.

Then there was a triple. While making a point about the dearth of good role models for young girls, Emma cites the examples of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohann, and Ann Coulter. Why the cheap shot? Personally, I think using Hillary Clinton would have been funnier, but it would have been equally inappropriate. If the show is supposed to be escapism, Why include the triple at all?

But let’s get back to that 70 cents thing. This “statistic” has been bandied about for years, but with little actual proof. Thomas Sowell addresses this at length in The Vision of the Annointed.

If you total up the salaries of all the men in the workplace, and divide it by the number of men working, and then you do the same for women, you do, indeed, come up with different numbers. And, sure enough, men do make more.

However, once you start factoring in choices of profession, years of experience, education, and other factors, you discover that the differences are reduced to under 2 or 3 percent, a number that is not statistically significant.

But there is an even easier way to disprove the canard. It’s so simple, that even liberals can understand it. And it’s why they get so upset when I point it out.

Liberals believe that businessmen are greedy heartless bastards who would do anything to save a dime. Which, if true, begs this question: Why do men have jobs? If greedy industrialists can buy something for 70 cents, why would they pay a buck?

So, come next Tuesday, I’m not sure which TV mood will rule the remote. But I am sure of one thing – that mood is at least somewhat less likely to be gleeful.

fiat lux!

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