I’m not sad to see 2017 go. It was a mean year, all in all. Too much name calling and schoolyard taunting. The year seemed to revel in not caring who got hurt. 2017 shared less, got more stingy as time passed. It made people feel bad about themselves. 2017 was humorless.
It was like our collective intellect dropped to the level of a sixth-grade boy. Sorry. We were worse than that. Now I have to apologize to sixth-grade boys.
Sure, there were moments of inspiration and good works done. Unselfish acts of kindness. Love that struggled to light. People who stood up for those in trouble. We did our best. There were still kittens on Facebook. But it always felt like the final cumulative count was a 49-51 vote. Kindness and our better selves just failing by two votes.
I blame reality tv shows. They encourage us to celebrate our worst selves, conniving and deceiving in the name of winning. Voted off islands and booted off the dance floor. Songs halted, costumes laughed at. Judgment left to audiences. Gladiators in the Coliseum were in our living rooms every night.
It’s divinely human to feel a thrill at the failure of others but we should keep it to ourselves.
Disclaimer: I don’t actually know about reality show content from personal knowledge since I’ve never watched a reality show. On principle.
Do you remember, back in the day, why these shows hit and became popular? It was to avert a writer’s strike. There was no one to write the dramas that balanced justice with integrity. No charming romantic comedies with heart, or coming of age stories. No quick-witted repartee; Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon would’ve been unemployed. No allusions to Shakespeare. No uplifting moral at the end, cue the credits.
Reality shows are cheaper to produce and have no scripted dialog. No need to pay a writer to create an interesting environment and voice a moral dilemma. Or a creative plotline. Or a character with depth. Just a producer looking edgier antics for higher ratings.
That’s right. Reality shows are scabs. I didn’t consider myself a writer at the time, I was a lover of writers, though. I did not cross the imaginary picket line and watch the new genre.
THIS WEEK: For new readers, I started this blog to have a place to talk about books and writing, while continuing to write the horse stuff at annablakeblog.com. Things have stayed in neat piles exactly like they do in my underwear drawer.
News: I have a book talk with Peg Gould (Hound Dog Blues), 11-3, January 20th at 12 East Bijou, Hooked on Books, an indie bookstore in downtown Colorado Springs. Yay for Indies. Please stop by if you’re local.
Poetry boot camp is wild. I’m at the final edit of my collection of poems, Horse Prayers. (My love affair with poems doesn’t threaten my long-term relationship with writing non-fiction. It’s more an inky ménage à trois.) This book will be more fun/challenging to design and publish since it isn’t a paperback. My friend suggests it be a junior coffee table book. I’m pondering that.
Finally, at the end of January, I’ll be crossing the equator for the first time, headed to New Zealand and Australia for a series of clinics. If you want to come along, follow me on annablakeblog.com I’ll be writing about the travel, the horses and riders I meet, and whatever else crosses my path. In the rest of 2018, I’ll go from Alaska to Arizona, and over to Scotland. Come see me if I’m in your area. I go where I’m invited, and some clinics have writing workshops attached. I expect adventure ahead!
My point about reality shows? It’s true I may have watched more than my share of Law & Order and West Wing episodes over the years. So, it isn’t that I have a love for stuffy highbrow drama, but can we please call it enough with reality mud-wrestling? Can we please be kind and smart again? Can we affirm our better selves again?
If you’ve felt the same disappointment, this is your call to arms. Err. I mean keyboards. Or microphones. Or art supplies. Or street corners. Anything, adopt one of those Facebook kittens, but speak out. Let your creativity and intelligence shine. It’s bigger than politics. It’s about compassion and art. It’s about lifting the quality of our conversations.
Are you on a self-imposed strike over a creative dispute? Would you like more pay-back for your work? Looking around right now, although we may not always feel our input is appreciated, we certainly notice when it isn’t there.
So very well said, Anna. I have never watched one of those shows either, but I do believe you are right about them being the source of so much discontent. I also blame Twitter (another thing I will never do), apparently all too easy to rant & rave without coherent thought.
I am re-subscribing to follow your blog because somehow I have been cast adrift in cyberspace. I didn’t realize it until I read End the Strike Now! Cheers from a rather chilly Vermont (minus 12 at 9am).
Welcome back, Shelagh. Thanks for commenting. I’ve missed you. Stay warm and best to you and yours in the new year.
I am thrilled for you – know you will enjoy seeing other parts of the great earth. You have a special insight on life and I so appreciate what you share in your books. I was at Author’s Day and you were the favorite of mine and you did it without a college education. I value education but find so many people that I admire that did not take that route in life. My parents never were college educated and they were amazing people that I will never forget. Keep on your track – enjoy each and every day and we both will never get out alive I assure you.
Hugs and Smiles,
Dixie Ann Gordon
Thank you, Dixie. That talk was so fun, and I appreciate your kind words. I value education, too… a different sort of adult “home” schooling maybe. You are so right, this is going to kill all of us eventually. Living fully is a great revenge. Thanks for commenting, Dixie Ann. Glad you’re here.
I’ve never watched one either, but knew instinctively they were bogus and painful. On occasion, in the afternoon, I’ll watch Ellen, which I call “Yellin'”. She has a good heart and can be funny. What I don’t like is her “games”. Most of them focus on someone doing something really dumb, that might actually cause injury, if not embarrassment. Why do so many people think that is fun? Why does Ellen? My rant for the day.
On Sun, Jan 7, 2018 at 5:32 AM, Anna Blake: The Print Version. wrote:
> Anna Blake posted: ” I’m not sad to see 2017 go. It was a mean year, all > in all. Too much name calling and schoolyard taunting. The year seemed to > revel in not caring who got hurt. 2017 shared less, got more stingy as time > passed. It made people feel bad about themselves.” >
Rant heard, thanks, Laurel
Lol right on..reality shows are scabs. I rarely watch TV. It. Is. So. Bad. Gives me more time to read. Not a huge poetry fan but I do look forward to your new poetry book! =-)
Thanks, Deb. I do think of it for poetry for people who don’t like poetry. Won’t put that on the cover, though… 🙂
you are spot on! I also share your hatred of reality tv. I am also proud to say (sad, in a way) that I have never watched a minute of this so called entertainment. The IQ of this nation is in the toilet. Its bad enough when pro football season starts….but reality tv is by far the worst. I am from the generation when having manners and compassion was pretty much pounded into us. Now it is all about who can be the most vulgar. We live in a classless society. A poll was taken about 10 years ago- half of the high school graduating class believed they were going to earn their income from becoming reality tv stars. Need I say more
How depressing is that? I wasn’t raised by polite people and I agree.
I’m planning on purchasing your poetry book no matter what format you decide to go with, but when I read “junior coffee table book” my mouth watered. Now I just need a coffee table.
You make me laugh. Will I have to move to a nicer house?? Nah… Thanks, Michelle.
I don’t watch reality shows, they are simply disgusting. I don’t watch much television in the first place, I’d rather read or write. You’re right too about 2017, it won’t be missed. Enjoy your globe trotting.
Thanks, Aquila. Yup, not missed.
I guess I’ll be the one to stand up and admit that “yes” I watch Alaskan Frontier, Gold Rush and Oak Island. There I said it.
I’ll gather berries from Safeway, chop wood for our fire here and break the ice in the creek for the cows once again this year. I’ll leave the gold sluicing to the big dogs. Maybe just sport some hoops in the ears on occasion.
Sounds like I have my own show already!!
Always love tuning in to you Anna! There is a certain feeling I get from your honesty and truth.
It’s refreashing, bold and enjoyable!
Look at you go!!
I love it!
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Oh, you crack me up. Probably no surprise that I don’t know those shows. We do gather berries in the same place. Thanks for this chuckle-worthy comment, Kelly!
Your hard hitting writing is such a refreshing read Anna. I like to call a spade a spade, and have little patience with those who like to pretend all is sunshine and light. Let’s name it, and get on with the real stuff!
Thrilled to hear of a poetry book in the offing…. and fingers crossed one day it is available as an E-book…. not the same obviously as a coffee table delight, but for me that’s the only option.
Bon voyage for the trip Downunder!
I am not one for subtly, that;s true. And in this crazy world, a hard back means hard to get… so yes, an ebook too. Thank you.
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