Letter to Editor

Dear Lanthorn Readers:

Note: If you happen to not be of sound mind at the moment, put down your beer, pass the joint, and think about this editorial for a minute or two. Now, I am going to assume that the majority of students who actually read and contemplate the content of this bi-weekly paper are in fact of sound mind. A perfect example of the rational, curious, thought invoking, engaged citizens this university churns out at three-hundred fifty seven dollars a credit hour every year. Individuals who are more than capable of carrying our society on and into the future, equipped with a sense of unrelenting fervor. That being said, I have a problem with a fairly large number of you. Do not assume I am unjustly attacking the student body or you as individuals and judge this opinion piece before you even have a chance to advance beyond the first six sentences. Don’t feel slighted, targeted, singled-out, or beleaguered, it’s not only you I have beef with but our public as well.

If you’re searching for a reason as to why I chose our student population as a starting point, I guess it’s because maybe I hold myself and our fellow Lakers to a higher standard than the typical, less informed, public we reside within. I like to think we know more, are constantly in a higher state of awareness, and pride ourselves as free and liberal thinkers.

Now I’m going to pose a serious of questions, food for thought if you will, let’s see how informed you all actually are.

1) What are the current attitudes of Israelis toward Palestinians (and vice versa) and in what ways are they attempting, through political process, to reach a peaceful middle ground?

2) The recent bill signed by President Obama provided roughly how much money to small businesses around the nation?

3) Whom are the two candidates running for the position of governor in our state?

4) What political party currently controls the House of Representatives and is this important?

5) How much money a year is disbursed by our government to fund “The War on Drugs?”

6) How many American service men and women have perished this year alone in the conflict in the Middle East?

If you find yourself unable to answer any or all of the previous questions, here is another set you can answer and hopefully use to redeem yourself.

1) What drug was Lindsay Lohan charged with having in her possession?

2) What country did the women on the “Bad Girls Club” visit where most of them hooked-up with strippers?

3) What city did the most recent season of “The Real World” take place in?

4) What are the names of all three Kardashian sisters?

5) How many homemakers are there on “The Real Housewives of Orange County?”

6) What famous movie star plays a character in the sitcom “Two and a Half Men?”

How did you do? My bet is the majority of you answered the second set of questions with much less difficulty than the first. This is exactly my point. If you did happen to answer a higher frequency of the latter questions, this simple illustration of your media prowess tells us what you would rather watch, as well as the content you find to be of more importance. So in essence, what you are revealing to me and what the majority of this country is telling me, is that more people would rather watch a host of ill mannered, especially slutty, juvenile, unintelligent, classless, bombastic women get drunk and act like idiots on national TV? Opposed to knowing how much our government just spent on legislation that will directly affect you, because you are a U.S. citizen, through a variety of fiscal mediums? Or the fact that our government again wastes billions of dollars a year on proposed “incentives” to win a war on drugs that ultimately cannot be won? Obviously, the type of particular shenanigans the “Jersey Shore” crew got into this week is more of a priority than say (we’ll keep it local this time) the amount of homeless people on the streets of Grand Rapids or the above average illiteracy rate.

Now don’t get me wrong, I find myself occasionally perusing this type of television debauchery from time to time. It’s hard not to be sucked into, especially over the past couple of years as reality TV has rose to prominence among cable/satellite programming. It’s everywhere, occupying multiple channels and timeslots, spanning various subjects and targeting a wide range demographics. How did this happen? How did we as a society allow this media abomination to dominate television screens across the country? I know, it is sick and twisted. Are our own realities so mundane, so terrible, that we seek escape through a sick voyeuristic obsession we have with watching other people willingly degrade themselves for some airtime?

The only way to fight this sort of TV filth may very well be the most difficult undertaking we will ever have to embark on. No, the resolution doesn’t mean you should get nasty on all the television sets within a two mile radius, it’s not burning down a television studio, sacrificing a virgin, staging a riot, or abandoning your current lifestyle to live in the woods naked and retarded. All you need to…..do………is…………..turn the…….channel.

It’s no secret that televised media is a demand driven enterprise. What the people want the people get. Whatever program has the viewer-ship and the ratings, gets the airtime. This type of mind numbing nonsense is allowed to exist because we as a public endorse it in record numbers. Guess what would happen if guys and gals stopped tuning in to see who Snooki hooked up this week, what bad girl got her faced slapped, or what oh so pressing problems the Kardashians have to deal with, the shows would slowly start to tank. If people decided ignorance was not really bliss and attempted to watch an hour of CNN or MSNBC, even the Daily Show, yes it’s satirical but still contains some amount of newsworthy relevance, ratings would decrease. The viewer-ship would decrease. The networks airing these shows would start to see a decrease in revenue. And thennnnnnnnnnn, programs like these would slowly start to vanish from TV guides. The number of drunk, pompous, men and women ranging from the ages of 18-26 being imbeciles in front of network cameras would decrease. Are you beginning to notice a trend?

Perhaps this particular phenomenon would lead to an increase in public involvement in politics and other current events. Maybe the public would slowly begin becoming aware of not only what is going in this country but around the globe. You know, people might actually realize the utility in the television and the media. I bet you the majority just might abandon the notions that TV is strictly for entertainment, something you sit in front of and stare blankly into so you don’t have to think. Television can be desensitizing. It can produce an unfocused, blas?©, mass of subscribers. However, it can also be used to inform, to make one aware, to propel individuals to question establishment, government, big business, so this direct democracy can function to the fullest extent on the principles it is in fact grounded in. A land, society, government, and lifestyle made and determined by the people for the people, reflecting the attitudes, demeanor, intelligence, and prowess of a cognizant and involved public. So if you feel the way that I feel and are sick of all these reality shows ruining, not only the image of our generation, but the better purposes that perhaps at one point in time television was intended for, turn the channel. Just because you refuse to watch pointless, mind-numbing programming, doesn’t mean you still can’t get your G.T.L. on.

Zachary McNeil

GVSU student