America's Got A Fame Problem
On a recent show, America’s Got Talent featured a middle-aged couple who threw knives with their feet. Comic Jackie Fabulous told jokes about weight loss and dating. There was also a 14-year-old chanteuse singing her original song. And a 65-year-old blind blues singer/ Viet Nam vet warbling fo the $1 million first prize..
All for the approval of judges Simon Cowell (the Mean One), Howie Mandel (the Phobic One) and Julianne Hough (the Pretty One). All the while host Terry Crews strains his jacket with his incredible guns and 20 megawatt smile.
The biggest takeaway in watching this orgy of need is the all-consuming desire for validation from the judges (yes, the online voters matter, but Simon Cowell is the Pope). The unknown performers demand fame. Pleading eyes ask to be lifted above the mob. Fans are equally committed. Says one tweet: “America’s Got Talent is… about making a choice. It's America's choice. America's not stupid. You are”
America’s always had talent shows. From Ted Mack to the Gong Show to FAME, hitting the big time has always been a compulsion in the U.S. But the saturation of approval shows since Survivor renewed the genre is stunning. There are judged contests on baking desserts, drag queens, haute cuisine, song writing, standup comedy, Ninja Warriors, vacation homes and more. Every cable channel has an orgy of need on its prime-time schedule.
It used to be religion answered this longing. But in this secular age, acceptance from the made-men and made-women of culture has achieved veneration, a spiritual baptism . The notion that a hit record or Vegas show will cleanse you in the River Jordan of culture has replaced the Beatitudes for most ordinary folk.
It is that same obsession with fame, with leaving your mark in the temporal world not in heaven, that infects the lost souls now plaguing society in random shootings. While politicians and media hacks argue about the efficacy of background checks and magazine capacities on guns, the real culprit is the hole in the country’s psyche.
Look at the evidence. In an age where levels of murder and assault are much reduced from 20 years ago, two areas stubbornly resist the trend. The most prominent is the Lone Gunman genre. This is almost exclusively white men from 18- 35 years old. Some suggest they have political motives. One shot up GOP congressmen in a softball game. Another shot Latinos in El Paso, Texas. Another killed gays in Florida.
Sometimes they’re simply mute, as with the Las Vegas shooter.
To the bug-eyed candidates for the Democrastic nomination these senseless crimes are explained as the by-product of a virulent gun culture. Extremists like Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren advocate seizing all the (legal) guns in America to dry up the supply. Even president Trump suggests background check legislation as a salve.
But the tell in all these crimes is not guns but their theatrical, highly public nature. Sometimes the perpetrators admit their need for notoriety when they’re captured alive or their social media posts are revealed after their deaths. In their perverse, sociopathic minds, they are performing just as the knife throwers and blues singers do on AGT. The stars of network TV news will have to say my name. I will be famous. Even people who hate me will grudgingly admit my existence.
Many understand this nihilistic need for fame from those lost in life. They suggest not printing names of perpetrators or giving as little detail about their crimes. Remove the platform, remove the incentive. But those on TV giving hot takes for a living find that boring. They want a gun crisis. Or a GUN CRISIS.
The second recidivist area of culture is urban killing, which is creating unspeakable body counts. It receives virtually no coverage. An average weekend in Chicago sees seven killed 30 wounded in turf wars. The same in Baltimore, St. Louis, Los Angeles and other big cities. It is almost exclusively black violence.
For that reason the purveyors of media narratives ignore the body counts. Where Lone Wolves get weeks of airtime, the black bodies in Chicago are no more than a throaway story on local news. Why? Liberal apologists can’t insinuate the black community might in some way be at fault. Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a CNN or MSNBC panel discuss banning the handguns that wreak so much of this black inner-city havoc? Didn’t think so. It’s just AR-15s in the hands of white nationalists.
The insincerity of the vote hustlers and media fools is spelled out in their disinterest for this slaughter. It’s hard to rouse Trump hate when cities run exclusively by Democrats for 50 years indulge this carnage. So they focus on the white loners and their guns.
That’s why Wal Mart’s acquiescence to this hypocrisy is shameful but not surprising. Who wants a boycott from the zealots like Debra Messing or Davey Hogg? Easier to surrender rather than push back on the charlatans. Hope the fever will break and you can go back to selling cheap junk food.
For the Left all the world’s a stage, but only actors they select get to tread the boards.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the publisher of (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also a best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps Are Killing Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them is now available on brucedowbigginbooks.ca.