Even as an opinion columnist with the little ol’ 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 — even globally.
Being shredded is both one of the joys and risks of being an opinion columnist. An opinion columnist with a thin skin won’t last very long because there’s always someone out there with a different opinion, one just as strong who is willing — even anxious — to shred the columnist.
And I’m OK with that. Being shredded can be invigorating. Anyway, one who vents one’s opinion publicly shouldn’t expect to get off Scot-free.
Oops. Is it OK to say "Scot-free" in today’s hyper-politically sensitive culture of ours? By writing "Scot-free" I’m being biased implying a whole race of people is cheap, am I not?
But in the final analysis, maybe we really aren’t 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 isn’t frowned upon to criticize religiosity or morality. In fact, it’s almost like a shooting gallery. We can — and do — freely shred those who offer religious opinions or speak out against immorality — or at least what used to be considered immoral — 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 it’s not immoral any longer.
Jones has recently discovered God and the Bible and was reportedly speaking about his show’s immorality in a recent video. Among other things, he said the show was "filth."
Admittedly, I’ve 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 show’s 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 TV’s most popular shows says something about our most basal and worst instincts, intelligence and desires. They’re 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 mom’s 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."
I’ve been critical of "The Simpsons," another mindless yet popular TV show, the longest running sitcom in the history of television. I’ve 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. It’s trash TV, yet even "The Simpsons" has its value proponents. Hard to imagine.
Housewives "wherever," "Family Guy," "The Simpsons," "Two and a Half Men" — 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 that’s fine with me. I’m not thinned skinned. I can take it.
But I am worried about where we’re 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 — like Jones — 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, he’s 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.