CNN Headline News has done a few stories today on National Bracket Day. I'm not sure if this is a "real" day like Valentine's Day, or if it is something the channel made up, but it serves to prove the thesis of Dumbing Down: Essays on the Strip-Mining of American Culture. As a culture, we Americans are getting dumber by the minute. The fact that CNN is covering NCAA brackets as a news item proves it. (Yes, I know this is the same channel that, on the same day, covered a shark feeding frenzy as news and seemed to care a lot about Whitney Houston's daughter talking to Oprah. These things served as bookends on a piece on an American soldier going berserk in an incident sure to cripple international relations, yet handled with the same level of severity as, say, high gas prices.
The book was first written in 1997, and I would posit that American culture has actually gotten worse. It isn't that it has become "dumber." It's that culture doesn't seem to even exist anymore. Everything is throw-away. The attention span of the American public is about ten months, which ensures that nothing stays around long enough to have an influence on the culture, and when, by law of averages, it does, it isn't anything good (e.g., American Idol
Also reported on CNN Headline News: Jeff Foxworthy is supporting Mitt Romney. At what point would any news network take Foxworthy's support of a character as anything other than something to be mocked? Apparently never. I imagine when this is a news item, National Bracket Day coverage (complete with cheerleaders -- I kid not) is not far off.
Dumbing Down has some troubling aspects to it, and I don't agree with every essay in it, but as a whole it is a powerful and damning work that should be read by those whose opinion on American culture is less than ideal. The rest of you can fill out your brackets and take much comfort in the fact that you aren't alone.
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-Doug Brunell (America's Favorite Son)