IMO: Extremism is the New Reality

I assume the intellectual set has come up with the term for today’s obsession for extremism representing the last decade in television and filmmaking. Or is this post-post-post modernism? Netflix and Amazon, HBO, to name a few, have kicked the shins of the traditional format for movie making and television. They don’t have to abide by FCC rules. FCC rules found here. The result? Cable television has few restrictions, if at all. Their influence has had a dramatic effect.

1. Nudity and sex are commonplace.

2. Profanity has never been raunchier.

3. Deviant behavior storylines abound.

4. Apocalyptic storylines abound.

5. There is no God.

By now I’m guessing you think I’m a prude and ultra-Conservative suggesting we reinstate a censorship board to protect the virtues inherent in children and society as a whole. Like in the 80s when the moral majority attempted to control the hair bands by censoring their music with a warning label.

NO. I’m not on a soapbox trying to persuade you that amorality has us enthralled. I’m saying we are desensitized. Like blogging and self-publishing, we are inundated with choices. The speed at which the removal of barriers, not for the purpose of telling a story that needs to be heard, but for the shock value to hook us, is akin to the rush of cocaine to distance oneself from the boredom of normalcy. The barriers I’m referring to are 1 – 5 above. 

For the record, narratives of varying viewpoints are welcome. Go LGBT. My idea of deviance is a storyline about torture. Especially children. (Absentia, The Alienist). Nudity and Sex in all its variations. Game of Thrones. Westworld. The use of extreme profanity. Even The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has its raunchy moments. Pick your series!

Take Netflix’s new hit, The Russian Doll, for instance. Created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, it is a dark comedy-drama that has a smart, highly entertaining storyline. Natasha Lyonne’s character Nadia describes herself as “If Andrew Dice Clay and Merida from Brave had a child…” referencing the Disney heroine with big red hair along with the 80s NY comedian who was banned for his crass and rowdy routine. (Since A Star is Born, his raunchy routine redux tour has sold out.)

I focused on the Mindbender aspects of the story when I watched season 1 and tried hard to ignore the extreme profanity and casual sex and substance abuse like it was a mainstream part of life. It’s obviously made for a mature audience, but like the previous examples, the access to them is unrestricted. The story for select audiences becomes mainstream. 

As a teacher,  I have seen students watch this before, during lunch, and after school, because they heard it was really good. I have to confiscate phones daily. Students will plug their buds in their ears and tune in to their phone during the middle of class. They are addicted to extremism. And it can’t compete with learning. Learning a subject takes imagination and repetitious practice and active engagement.

Dragons and witches will rule in April with the advent of Game of Thrones. Who does the storyline target? Banging sex is a part of the package. It’s hard to watch students obsessed with it during school hours. I’m betting elementary and middle school kids have seen it, too.

It’s the stripping of inference and the death of imagination for the sake of extremism that has me concerned. When you reposition what was once behind closed doors to the center stage and put it up on a platform for all to see, especially children & teenagers, the loss of innocence has me wondering what price will we pay for this new liberation? 

Can you imagine films and television in the next ten to twenty years? What happens when there is no more envelope to push? Taboos a thing of the past? Do we need taboos in society? Or will it one day be okay to watch child sex in a television series and sadomasochism and bestiality?

“Restriction” has now become the foulest word in the English language followed closely behind “moderation”.

I’m a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock and film noir. Talk about gritty, deviant storylines. I know Hitch was restricted by the studio system (probably a good thing) because it caused him to tell a creepy story by using devices that activated the imagination. I enjoy historical fiction, science fiction, and mysteries. I crave complicated characters and smart dialogue. Tell the story. Please, don’t forget the underrated technique of subtlety.

The point: films and television series have pushed the envelope off the table with unnecessary jolting language and abusive or sexual situations to the mainstream.

What films or television series do you notice embrace the extreme? If you took out the extreme elements would the storyline suffer?  

1 Shot Wednesday: Aperitivo

Roman aperitivo

Last summer, our traveling group wandered through Roman side streets all afternoon. Working up a good appetite, a few of us sampled the food and drink alfresco-style. Add fun conversations about Rome and its culture–it’s easy to trigger the pleasurable memory whenever I see this picture. It took two hours to nibble away this platter.

Aperol Spritz, grilled vegetables, honey, Prosciutto, Salami, olive and artichoke spreads, cheeses, and Bruschetta.

Salute!

IMO: 2018

2018 was like riding a temperamental thoroughbred without a saddle. An exceptional year set at a furious pace containing great and horrible events. I am exhausted. Since we have already concluded the first week of 2019, will the fast pace set up the new year as a repeat? I regret not posting enough or following your blogs to the extent you have written them. In exchange for sporadic blogging, I spent my time completing my second novel, Inside the Gold Plated Pistol. That feels very good indeed! Wish me luck as I search for an agent who might see something worthy in the narrative. A sweet cherry was given to me when Arizona’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology compiled and edited by Z Publishing House featured an excerpt from my novel (www.zpublishing.com). Inside the Gold Plated Pistol is the second installment in a six-part series chronicling new heroes of the United States from the twentieth century. It took me five years to research and write it. Good grief, I’ll be 76 by the time I finish the project. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Hurry, Cindy!

winter fire ring
Winter Fire Ring

Since “rushed time” is my theme, here are a few pictures that represent the highs and lows of 2018. Let’s go backward.

For two weeks we have been entertaining family. Our guests wanted snow. And they got it. Arizona had a couple big snow storms recently. Kids and grandkids had fun sledding and appreciating that strange white stuff in the White Mountains on the eastern side of the state. Returning to North Central AZ was problematic. On New Year’s Eve, it took eleven hours to drive through a sudden storm with blinding snow and freezing temperatures. Back home, the snow had melted and we are back to 50-degree temperatures.

The late summer and fall contained the busiest workload I’ve thrown on myself in years. I did it. But I don’t remember how.

In June I took a group to Rome and Sorrento and had a blast.

Sorrento at Dusk

After twenty-six years of being divorced, the end of April was special as I married Jim on our version of the “Love Train”.

april wedding
April Wedding

It was a dream come true to see our two sides of the family mingle in one location. It certainly was the highlight of the year.

the gross time
The Gross Time

The start of 2018 was a nightmare. In short, I was in and out of the hospital from Jan – April multiple times. Thirteen times to the E.R., tests, tests, and more tests, two surgeries, a blood clot, two long distance ambulance rides, and $158k later, I was able to return to work and finish out the school year and marry at the end of the month. My liver and gallbladder were the culprits. The disgusting details surrounding their rebellion in my body I am still trying to repress.

Hiking in Sedona in December and January is the best time to explore the canyons as it is cool and refreshing. Here’s a shot from Fay Canyon about twenty minutes from my home. This right before my body shut down.

Winter Hike in Sedona

 

I’m not much a fan of newsletters sharing all the things one has done throughout the year, but I’ve noticed bloggers like listing and recapping their year. So why not? Let me include by sharing my favorite choices of entertainment in 2018.

Isle of Dogs

Colette

The Green Book

MI: Fallout

The Last Kingdom, Season 3

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 1

A Quiet Place

Roma

A Star is Born

The Happy Prince

Most Entertaining Book: The Sisters Brothers

There you go. What was your favorite movie or book of the year?

See, there’s snow in Arizona.

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