I get shredded for some of my opinions.
Even as an opinion columnist with the little olí Havelock News (circulation of about 1,500 per week) in still rural and largely conservative Eastern North Carolina, I get shredded for some of my opinions. And because of the Internet, I can (and do) get shredded occasionally nationally ó even globally.
Being shredded is both one of the joys and risks of being an opinion columnist. An opinion columnist with a thin skin wonít last very long because thereís always someone out there with a different opinion, one just as strong who is willing ó even anxious ó to shred the columnist.
And Iím OK with that. Being shredded can be invigorating. Anyway, one who vents oneís opinion publicly shouldnít expect to get off Scot-free.
Oops. Is it OK to say "Scot-free" in todayís hyper-politically sensitive culture of ours? By writing "Scot-free" Iím being biased implying a whole race of people is cheap, am I not?
But in the final analysis, maybe we really arenít so politically correct after all. While it may be frowned upon to name a sports team the "Redskins" anymore or use terms like "Indian giver" or "Scot-free" for that matter, it isnít frowned upon to criticize religiosity or morality. In fact, itís almost like a shooting gallery. We can ó and do ó freely shred those who offer religious opinions or speak out against immorality ó or at least what used to be considered immoral ó without any accusations of bias.
Angus T. Jones, the "Half" of the hit TV show "Two and a Half Men" was shredded in the blogosphere last month for speaking out against the immorality of his show. Oh, he was right by the way. It is immoral. Or at least it would have been even a decade ago if itís not immoral any longer.
Jones has recently discovered God and the Bible and was reportedly speaking about his showís immorality in a recent video. Among other things, he said the show was "filth."
Admittedly, Iíve not watched a whole episode. I have no desire to even to conduct "research" for this column. It took only walking by a TV in our home to catch a few minutes of this show to inform me that it had no redeeming qualities. None. Whatsoever.
In this particular rerun episode, a scantily-clad and tattooed witch had seduced the showís star who was worn out from being, well, "busy" with this witch in the bedroom for days.
That "Two and a Half Men" is one of TVís most popular shows says something about our most basal and worst instincts, intelligence and desires. Theyíre pretty darn low. And low down. And raunchy, too, if the popularity of the show is any indication.
Apparently the large viewing audience has failed to heed our momís advice that just like you are what you eat, you also become what you watch. Time is precious. We need to waste it far more wisely than wasting it on "Two and a Half Men."
Iíve been critical of "The Simpsons," another mindless yet popular TV show, the longest running sitcom in the history of television. Iíve been shredded by several for that opinion. They thought it was joke I would mention "The Simpsons" as a poor example of fatherhood for a generation of perspective fathers. Itís trash TV, yet even "The Simpsons" has its value proponents. Hard to imagine.
Housewives "wherever," "Family Guy," "The Simpsons," "Two and a Half Men" ó you name it, and there are few redeeming qualities to any of these shows and many others like them. Like Siren songs, though, they draw us onto the shoals of some of our worst human failings.
And criticizing them publicly leads to being shredded and labeled as out of touch, inflexible, too bound by rules, and "one way." But thatís fine with me. Iím not thinned skinned. I can take it.
But I am worried about where weíre going as a people given the popularity of these shows, our willingness to defend them as having value, and the wasteful time spent watching them. That they "pass the morality test" with so many and that those that speak out against them ó like Jones ó are fodder for unrestrained bias is also problematic.
Angus T. Jones is on contract to complete his series of "Two and a Half Men." Other than speaking out, heís stuck with wallowing in his self-described filth. The rest of us though? We can turn "Two and a Half Men" and shows like them off.
And become Scot-free of trash TV.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.