From the Editor

John Turner

Have you noticed the amount of murder, mayhem and really creepy behavior being depicted on TV nowadays? It all strikes me as approaching epidemic proportions.

I realize that the myth of happy, normal people that colored our self-depiction fifty years ago was a bit creepy too. I'm not suggesting that we go back to it. But surely we haven't got to the point where serial murder, torture, plotting to blow up thousands of people, and sex between grandmothers and grandsons is average behavior.

On the other hand, how do I know?

I do know this. I used to think I had a pretty strong stomach. But now, after an evening of TV watching, I generally go to bed feeling pretty queasy. Maybe it's just a sign of declining libido.

Obviously, the stories we tell one another say a lot about who we are. And television is now, far and away, our main medium of storytelling. The domination, on television, of the bizarre and nauseating is an indication of something. I don't know exactly what it is, but I have a suspicion that it's not entirely good.

One healthy thing is that political talk shows indicate a breaking of the dams that have held back swelling resentment of Republican foreign policy over the past several years. Even Republicans appear to have lost their taste for it. The question now, though, is whether new-found boldness in expressing what people actually think about the Bush policies will make any difference. Mr. Bush pushes ahead as though it won't. But, I suspect, this time he's mistaken. He hasn't yet taken the measure of the wave that's going to wash over him in the coming months.

It's supposedly a misfortune to live in interesting times, and if that's true, we may be among the most unfortunate people of history.



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Harvard Square Commentary, January 15, 2007