There are times when societies can be, as the old saying goes, “so deep in the forest that they can’t see the trees.” The adage is applicable to the violence, murders, shootings, thefts and other criminal acts the television industry saturates the public with.
It’s all about ratings, money and “giving the people what they want,” although it could be convincingly argued that if viewers were offered something better, in due time an increasing number of them would actually prefer to reach higher. (Thank God for PBS…Channel 56 in Detroit.)
In addition to violence begetting more violence in a society in which violence — and growing indifference to it — is already much too prevalent, the televised bloodshed badly damages children’s minds. Add to that what they hear in hard-core rap songs, see in videos, and experience on the streets and in the schools. Then we naively ask, “What is wrong with young people today?”
This is not to suggest that everything on commercial television should be rated “G,” since most people desire a certain amount of adventure, excitement, suspense, etc.
But even so, popular programs such as “24,” “Law & Order,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Cops,” “The Mentalist,” “Southland,” “NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service” and all the rest, including numerous spin-offs, are doing society a disservice, which is sure to become even more self-evident with the passage of time.
The general message of the shows, no doubt, is supposed to be that crime does not pay. But in the gritty, graphic process of relaying that message, criminals are all-too-often glamorized.
I know it seems that I am overreacting, but I have a very low tolerance for violence and bloodshed — and the taking of human life being presented as entertainment.
CELEBRITIES have to deal with the same “mild afflictions” as anyone else — even when on stage. Talented Ne-Yo (real name: Shaffer Smith) was recently performing in London and suddenly got a bad case of the hiccups. Unable to finish the song, he apologized and asked the audience to sing the rest of the song.
But of course, that is not nearly as bad as what happened to actor Malik Yoba (“New York Undercover”) when he was doing a romantic scene in a play on a Detroit stage. At one point he stood up and realized that his excitement was showing. Yoba had to leave the stage, embarrassed by what had happened, and angry because most of the audience was laughing.
Detroit’s own Bettye LaVette, one of most passionate and powerful blues/R&B singers of all time, turned in a stunning performance at the televised 31st Annual Kennedy Center Honors ceremony in 2008, at which the legendary rock band the Who was among the honorees.
LaVette took one of their songs, “Love Reign O’er Me,” to a completely different place. Group members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry were fascinated and enchanted.
So now Bettye has recorded an album titled “Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook,” set for May 25 release. Yours truly is among those looking foward to hearing it.
EVERYONE has a right to their opinion and to express it, but actress Alyssa Milano was very much out of line to publicly refer to Tiger Woods as a “manslut.”
The elusive and troubled Lauryn Hill recently resurfaced for concerts in Australia.
I was thinking about some of the humorous things the late and wonderful Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg said over the years.
One of my favorites was when she said — on the air! — that she saw no harm in a group of lonely, middle-aged women hiring a male dancer to entertain them. Only “Queen” would say something so completely unexpected.
It was gratifying to hear that the Smithsonian Institution had opted to not accept the suit O.J. Simpson offered to donate. It’s the one he was wearing when he was acquitted of a double murder in 1995. Sports agent Mike Gilbert said the suit “is part of American history,” but the Smithsonian says it has no “crime section” and doesn’t want one.
Speaking of Simpson, I will never understand why so many Black people were supportive and even cheered the verdict. That was embarrassing. I think he was as guilty as sin. There was no way he was going to have a happy life after that.
Alicia Keys says the three albums she has listened to most over the years are “Here Comes the Sun” by Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder’s “Music of My Mind” and “Sign O’ the Times” by Prince.
Correction: In last week’s column, Elton John was identified as the first White artist to appear on “Soul Train” (1975). Actually, guitarist Dennis Coffey appeared on the show in 1971 when his single, “Scorpio,” was in the national Top 10, Pop and R&B. Coffey, who is from Detroit, also played on many Motown recordings.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Jasmine Guy, best known as Whitley Gilbert on the long-running sitcom “A Different World,” had a national Top 10 hit record in 1991 with “Another Like My Lover” and a Top 20 hit the year before with “Try Me.”
MEMORIES: “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” (Marvin Gaye), “I Love the Nightlife” (Alicia Bridges), “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby” (Barry White), “Spirit of the Boogie” (Kool & the Gang), “If It Ain’t One Thing, It’s Another” (Richard “Dimples” Fields), “Take Me Home” (Cher), “Rock Steady” (Aretha Franklin), “A Woman, a Lover, a Friend” (Jackie Wilson), “Thanks For My Child” (Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley), “Woman’s Gotta Have It” (Bobby Womack).
BLESSINGS to Valerie Lockhart, John Mason, Don Davis, V. Lonnie Peek, Chuck Young, Keena Green-Clinkscales, Michael J. Powell, Linsey Porter, Robert Kerse and Michele Jackson.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “For every minute you remain angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace of mind.”
Let the music play!
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