In Las Vegas Weekly, Greg Beato details the journey from the post-9/11 End of Irony to Snakes On a Plane, and has a word for all those Jeremiahs who mourn the loss of America's moral clarity:
Ultimately, however, those who predicted a monolithic shift to the age of seriousness and those who lament that shift's failure to achieve permanence ignore an obvious but critical fact about America's pop culture. It's massively parallel. It contains multitudes. If you think we're burying our heads in the trivial sands of reality TV, video games and Gawker.com, have you somehow overlooked that comedy channel that broadcasts a full hour of political commentary four nights a week? Did you fail to note that our desire to understand 9/11 was so great that in 2004, it turned Michael Moore into a matinee idol capable of outgrossing Leonardo DiCaprio? America's pop culture has gotten more serious since 9/11—so serious that thousands of attorneys, college professors and even U.S. military personnel now spend their workdays parsing The New York Times for partisan bias instead of surfing for Japanese foot-porn.
Featuring an excellent conclusion defending the American culture the moral clarifiers simultaneously applaud themselves for defending and loath as a decadent cesspool.
Jacob Sullum blew some fog into the moral clarity argument way back when.