At what mythical time in our nation's past did the masses do anything but consume junk culture?
Did they spend their evenings reading the new sheet music for a difficult new piece by Dvorak? Did they argue, late into the night, the relative merits of James or Santayana?
Did they eagerly read the latest novel by Faulkner, or the newest translation of Dostoevsky?
No, they read crap like The Farmer's Almanac, or the moronic verse of Martin Tupper. They attened klan meetings, and made hit songs out of such releases as "Yes, we have no Bananas" and "All Coons Look Alike to Me." You can't seriously be looking for an American cultural/intellectual fall from grace within a history that includes Burl Ives.
Mass culture is dreck. Always has been. Always will be.
Me, I've got no problems with "Joe Millionaire". I throughly enjoyed the first episode. I don't plan on missing any forthcoming episodes. It is cruel, exploitative junk that doesn't present itself as anything other than cruel, exploitative junk.
While I have no problem with lowbrow entertainment, the middlebrow stuff gets on my chuff. It is exploitative moronic crap that presents itself as virtuous, as important, as overflowing with good intentions, as, well, "art". It is not the pure dreck of "Joe Millionaire", it is dreck diluted with small amounts of things slightly less stinky. It is our undead Martin Tupper, it is "Forrest Gump", it is "Schindler's List," it is U2, goddammit.
Why are the Archies better than U2? Well, did Jughead ever come to belive that he was anything more than a member of a pop band? Did he ever fancy "Sugar, Sugar" to be a work of art. Did he ever fall prey to delusions of grandeur. Did he ever start sucking up to an right-wing already-dead (save for the burying) Pope? Did he ever try to influence world politics? Did he ever latch onto some hairbrained scheme like "Third World Debt Forgiveness"? Oh boy, where do I sign up? That is just what I want to do! Free up resources for a kleptocrat like Mugabe in Zimbabwe so that he can continue his campaign of genocide against the Southern tribes who didn't support him. Bono needs to quit this nonsense, go back to what he does best (i.e., making silly pop records) and leave the international politics stuff to the likes of Tony Blair and Donald Rumsfeld.
By the way Ohlala, the pronunciation of "Bowie" that you so deride is how it is spoken in England, and is, in fact, how the man pronounces his own name.
By the way, the "lonliest monk" quote is a good story, but it is just that: a story. This is a bona fide urban legend.
Reliable sources tell me that Tabatha Soren is not the streotypical grinning idiot newsbunny. She is certainly a damn sight more intelligent than the likes of Connie "the brain" Chung. The most common version of the story has the aforementioned Ms. Soren asking Bill Clinton if he has any personal ambitions or dreams that have not been achieved. He replies that he would have liked to play sax with Thelonious Monk. Tabatha is then supposed to have replied "Who is the lonliest monk?"
I laughed when I first heard the story, but the story ain't true.