reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.

9/01/2005

Turning From The Trivial: Questions From Elien

In my recent article “World Champions Of Triviality” I outlined our culture’s preoccupation with “silly activities” and how our obsession with entertainment and celebrity has distracted us from recognizing true heroes.

In response one of my reader’s posited some excellent refutation, which I answer here. Elien, who I believe is a girl, had several positive things to say, though I have edited out most of those sections in order to focus on the points where she disagreed and/or requested clarification. Her questions included “how does our tendency towards triviality weaken us?” and “what’s wrong with people becoming celebrities if they use it to do good?”

I would highly recommend that if you haven’t yet read the original article that you do so before proceeding. It is short and engaging, but highly relevant and important. If we want to change the culture we must understand the culture.

Elien: interesting post, but i think that the term "significant" is rather subjective and u haven’t provided your readers with your definition.
Brett: I would argue that September 11th was significant, that Hurricane Katrina is significant, and that the Iraq War is significant. I understand that that isn’t exactly a traditional definition, but those examples are some of what I had in mind when I said our preoccupation with the trivial will render us incapable of responding to the significant.

And notice that I say “preoccupation” not “occupation.” I’m fine with people being involved in these activities. I’m not fine with our culture over-emphasizing them to the point that my generation ceases to recognize true heroes and follow in their footsteps.
Elien: i agree, america is obsessed with the most trivial of things. i don’t think that attacking individuals involved in this "triviality" will change things.
Brett: I’m sorry if I came across as attacking any of the people I mentioned. Besides the Miss Universe beauty pageant, which I avoid as a Christian young man, I enjoy following the exploits of all the champions I mentioned. In fact, I believe I said so in my article.
Elien: of course, a lot of girls see miss universe and wish it was them walking on that stage. but not all of us live up to society's standards of beauty. where do u place these people? people need to find their niche in this world and feel better about themselves, a type of validation.... if a girl feels happy being crowned miss universe, let her be.
Brett: I completely agree. My only qualifier is that it is not ideal for young girls to feel that validation only comes from these shallow accomplishments. Though it might be wonderful for a young girl find fulfillment in a trivial pursuit is it not far better for her to find fulfillment doing something of even greater worth?

The solution is to make celebrities out of true heroes so that we send the message to young people that they don’t have be entertainers to gain recognition.
Elien: even if this competiton is not as shallow as we think it is, no one would take a country girl seriously if she were to talk about human rights than is she was miss universe. no matter how shallow her award may be, she is using her publicity to get people to at least listen to her cause. i think that momentum is ncessary for progress.
Brett: I would love it if a young person attain celebrity status for some “silly” activity and then use that celebrity status to accomplish meaningful things. And there are many celebrities doing precisely that. But again, my preference would be that our culture makes people celebrities for accomplishing meaningful things!
Elien: again, i was unclear about how u used the term "weaker" in ur last paragraph. how are we "weak?"
Brett: I am of the opinion that we often turn to media (entertainment) to help us escape from our problems. Heroes on the other hand help us face our problems.

An over obsession with entertainment breeds an escapist culture that cannot withstand a crisis that lasts longer than the average soap opera.

Thank you, Elien, for your thoughtful and gracious insights.