A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
Over the Thanksgiving break I used some of my extra time to watch a few movies and work out. One of the movies was Gladiator, Ridley Scott's classic tale of Imperial Rome, and of one man's journey of duty, honor and love.
During one of my workouts a TV at our health club aired the Jerry Springer Show. I was listening to music, and so was mercifully spared the audio portion. But there was no escaping the visual heartbreak of what Springer parades before America every week.
"I stuck around St. Petersburg - when I saw it was a time for a change.
Killed the Czar and his ministers. Anastasia - screamed in vain".
The horrific carnage and blood lust of the ancient Coliseum was, on some level, more honest than the Springer Show, for at least the purveyors of the Roman Games never pretended they were anything other than what they were. Springer would have us believe there is some cathartic societal value to his show.
"I rode a tank - held a general's rank.
When the Blitzkrieg raged - and the bodies stank"
The participants - America's modern-day gladiators - were literally clawing and screaming at each other, all while in various stages of un-dress. Then the camera turned to Mr. Springer, the "Emperor" watching the games with his odiously bemused eye. I half expected him to mimic the gesture of the real Emperors, and point his thumb up or down to indicate which contestants would die, and which would live to fight again on the his next show.
And just as the camera showed him, my I-Pod cued the classic Rolling Stones song, Sympathy for the Devil, some lyrics of which appear above in quotes. The drumbeat and Mick Jagger's voodoo-like snarl combined to form the perfect backdrop for the show.
The program is nothing less than emotional pornography, and as I continued running, I thought about Maximus Meridius and Jerry Springer. I thought about the great general's creed of "strength and honor" - and Springer's pathetic display.
We live in post-modern America, where tolerance is god, and where no one dares suggest that anything or anyone is better than anything or anyone else. But this contrast of Maximus Meridius and Jerry Springer reveals the lie that such a notion is predicated on.
We need to consider such things when we instruct our youth.
We need to consider that it might be OK to help them recognize C R _ _ when they see it.
And perhaps most of all - that it might be OK to call it that.