January 31, 2012

Annals of Childish Behavior™ (continued)

In many ways, television is the medium of irresponsibility, which is why the idea of adulthood within television is a contradiction in terms…."Grow up!" as an imperative means "behave and control yourself": understand your limitations and be reasonable and civil accordingly. One does not grow up on television. It is not in television's commercial interests to have one do so, because a free-floating mind is more apt to buy large quantities of La Choy Chinese food. But we are complicit in this as well, having found and tacitly urged on television a strange answer to our wildest dream. The question, how free can you be?, which bestrides the democracy as does no other, is in television rhetorical.
                                             Roger Rosenblatt, "Growing Up on Television," 
                                             Daedalus, Vol. 105, No. 4 (Fall, 1976) 

Is modern culture being overwhelmed by an epidemic of childishness? José Ortega y Gasset, writing in 1930, thought so. Annals of Childish Behavior™ chronicles contemporary examples of that epidemic. The childish citizen, Ortega said, puts "no limit on caprice" and behaves as if "everything is permitted to him and that he has no obligations."

Photo credit: MTV

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