Ask A Genius 525 – Moral Erosion Through Social Media
July 25, 2019
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If we’re looking at social media saturation, how does this erode moral standards?
Rick Rosner: Instead of starting from there, I will start from where I started from. I, and other people, will occasionally look at porn. Carole went out of town. I looked at more porn than I usually look at. I noticed the base level of porn; if you could catalogue porn, I would say there is an increasing perversity.
There is an increasing average level of perversity in porn. Certainly, now, compared to the Playboy Magazine of the 1960s that didn’t even show pubic hair when people had pubic hair. You’re too young to know about the war between Playboy and Penthouse.
Playboy ran the show forever. Then Penthouse comes in and said, “We’re going to be dirtier than Playboy.” Then Hustler comes in early to mid 70s, they say, “We’re going to show pubes, labia, and open labia.”
So, I would say porn gets on average more perverse. I was connecting this to an idea. Americans right now are on average scummier than they have been in the past. Americans are more comfortable being douchebags than Americans of the Greatest Generation, which indicaes, to me, there’s more stuff in the environment, the information environment, telling Americans that they’re douchebags and not telling Americans that they’re noble, say during the Greatest Generation.
Being a war, or a nation at war, or being a war at least considered being good against evil like World War II probably convinced an entire generation or two, that they were brave, decent, and self-sacrificing, and good. Then there were institutions that helped reinforced it.
Unsullied patriotism, the Church, Boy Scouts, the YMCA, the comprehensive high school everyone went to, wholesome entertainment, TV was wholesome to the point of being fucking awful for its first 2 or 3 decades.
Now, we live in an environment. We look at perverse porn. We play videos where we are engaging in bullshit. Not only do we feel like assholes for wasting many hours on bullshit, but within the games; we’re doing things that doesn’t convince us of our bravery. How could they?
A video game, nothing is at stake. The institutions that have told Americans that they are not scumbags have become suspected of being corrupt or obsolete. There is reality show culture where the media figures in the past; fame seemed to be more of a meritocracy than now.
Once reality show kicked in, any old scumbag could become famous if they were outrageous enough in their douchebaggery. That seems to erase the stories of who we tell ourselves we are. I was suing a quiz show one time.
In the late 1950s cheating scandal in quiz shows, some people were being given the answers. People who were more photogenic. Games shows wee huge in the 1950s. Everybody who had a television watched one of these shows.
It was found out that they were fixed. There was huge outrage up to President Eisenhower who spoke out about how disappointed he was. Imagine a president today. Although, Trump weighs in on all sorts of stupid shit.
Imagine people expecting fairness of TV competitions, there is some legitimacy in shows expected like Jeopardy. Imagine a reality television show where you’re expected to solve tasks to form alliances and manipulate people.
When I was suing Millionaire, a contestant was suing – back in 2000 – Survivor saying they cooked the competition and manipulated the contestants, saying she got kicked off. Her suit didn’t go far. Neither did mine.
But the idea 19 years later of someone suing a TV competition is laughable because the fairness expected on most of these competitions now seems ridiculous. Our expectations of ourselves have declined and aren’t being reinforced by what we see around us, expect on a daily basis from information and entertainment, and from the events of the world.
In another session, I could talk briefly. I haven’t talked about how Evangelicals are so comfortable being scumbags now. But that is probably worth a session.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Founder, In-Sight Publishing
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