We human beings are an interesting lot. Not only do we wait five minutes for a close parking space when there’s six of them five spaces back, but hold deep conversations with our pets (including our fish), go on one-food diets (the banana diet, the steak diet, the carrot diet), wear spandex (which never looks good on anyone), and dial numbers our cell phone while driving and drinking a soda. It seems that we also have an insatiable appetite for the absurd, for the extraordinary. For the idiotic.
And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
We all have slowed down to look at an accident; that’s a strange but common habit. I think it’s one of those “There, for the grace of God, go I” kind of thing. So it is with chuckling at people who fall down or get stuck in their car door, playing fantasy football (how can you bet on someone who might not even be playing?), or playing the lottery. We do things and watch things and say things and hope things will make sense in the end. But then there’s the things that cross the line of normalcy. Things that touch that nugget of sanity that we hold so close and dear and tight. An invasion of the senses…an invasion of the common sense kind.
There are television shows about people who can barely walk through their houses because of the “stuff” they’ve collected, restaurants who have dead bugs and two inches of grime mixed with dirt on their food vents, and young, hip people who do nothing but swear and have sex and hang out somewhere in Jersey. There are talk shows where the guests scream and swear and throw things at each other, and others where they share their most private disfunctions. There are movies about dismemberment, torture, and being buried alive. Cities crumble like dominoes and civilizations are wiped out.
And America watches. And wants more.
I have to admit that I’ve fallen into some of these holes. Half the time I can only take the first 30 minutes of Restaurant Impossible or Kitchen Nightmares. (Those kinds of shows make me not want to eat out ever again.) I have peeked into the show “Hoarders,” although I can only stand 5 minutes at a time. The bloody dismemberment/torture things I steer clear of, although I have been known to peek out from behind the pillow to watch a few zombies get their heads chopped off.
So I ask you: Why are humans drawn towards the flame of extremism?
This nonsense runs the gamut from funny to freakish. Why do we ride the fastest and highest rollercoaster in the land? Why do we make three dates for the same time, knowing we can’t keep any of them? Why do we waste time watching TV shows about murderers and drug addicts and out-of-control bikers? Why can’t we turn away from movies about cheating wives or possessed nuns or hillbilly duck call makers? Hollywood has made death and destruction and sex second nature to us. The more blood, the better. The more bizarre the situation, the better. The more stupidity, the more we watch.
Why do we push ourselves to the horrific edges that we do?
Maybe it’s an attempt to reconnect with our primal self. An attempt to prove to ourselves that we’re better than we think. Better than everyone else thinks. That we can experience absurdity at its worst and survive. After all, survival is primal. It is a part of our DNA. And there are a lot of techniques we have developed through the centuries to maintain that level of survival.
I’m not tearing down others’ forms of entertainment. Everyone is different. Everyone comes from a different part of the cosmic thread to form that all-familiar tapestry of life. But I do sometimes wonder how far humans will go for the sake of entertainment. How scared we will allow ourselves to become. How smug we will get from others’ misfortunes. After all, it is them and not us, right?
How this all ties together for a blog I’m not sure. All I know is that I don’t want to be one of those people who throw their panties at a talk show host. I don’t want to be sliced or diced or have to eat bugs to survive on some deserted island. I don’t want to taxidermy my pets after their demise or tattoo every inch of my body.
But what I don’t want even more is to desensitize my life. To compare cinema buildings toppling to the fall of the Twin Towers. I prefer to take the lame train through life. I don’t need to prove my endurance level is higher than the rest of the world. I don’t need my adrenalin pumping any faster nor have my blood pressure shoot up.
That’s what my day job is for.