J'accuse Joe Millionaire!


Newsweek's resident genius cum noodge, Anna Quindlen, is at it again. First, it was bad enough that newly liberated Afghans wanted Beatle haircuts and their MTV more than audio versions of Blessings and How Reading Changed My Life.

Now U.S. couch potatoes–on the eve of war!–are sacked out in front of immoral Reality TV shows. Shouldn't we be doing calisthenics, or at least watching Charlie Rose?

Writes La Quindlen:

The Arab world could be forgiven for thinking that what?s on the tube today forecasts the end of a culture as surely as the orgies of ancient Rome or the self-indulgence of the last dauphins did. But at least the French left behind some really great furniture. Can it be that one of the legacies of the most dominant nation on earth will be the execrable ?Are You Hot??

Dancing on the rim of the volcano: there?s no doubt about it. Only people who are really numb, or want to be, could stomach stuff so tawdry and stupid.

Brave words, especially coming from someone who pens "The Last Word" col in a publication that in the very same issue devotes precious column inches to a hard-hitting expose of Irish Kerry blue terriers (?They?re leprechauns in fur coats,? reveals one dog trainer) and the 10,000th Q&A with Gong Show auteur Chuck Barris ("They?ve asked me everything already. There isn?t anything else that I want to make clear").

If Quindlen is really worried about self-indulgent legacies, maybe she should look at her own writing. Rather than seeking to understand the different terms upon which viewers actually consume popular culture, she simply dismisses the mass audience as benighted at best, cretinous at worst. At least Joe Millionaire had a couple of twists thrown in to keep us guessing.