I first saw this happening in the 1990s during a period of unemployment. The TV talk shows started having stupid humiliation fests rather than the thoughtful shows that Donahue had. The shows were like “is she sleeping around” or “who’s my baby’s daddy” type. Audience members hooted and booed at the disliked guests. i saw it as a way to make people bully each other. Like it was OK for large groups to bully an individual if they did not like them or disagreed with them. I was already a target then but did not know it.
“Plays, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures, and other such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery, the price of their liberty, the instruments of tyranny. By these practices and enticements the ancient dictators so successfully lulled their subjects under the yoke, that the stupefied peoples, fascinated by the pastimes and vain pleasures flashed before their eyes, learned subservience as naively, but not so creditably, as little children learn to read by looking at bright picture books.”—Etienne de La Boétie, “The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude: How Do Tyrants Secure Cooperation?” (1548)
Americans love their reality TV shows—the drama, the insults, the bullying, the callousness, the damaged relationships delivered through the lens of a surveillance camera—and there’s no shortage of such dehumanizing spectacles to be found on or off screen, whether it’s Cops, Real Housewives or the heavy-handed tactics of police officers who break down…
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