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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

GOOOH: Confessions of a Dangerous Disposition

If you are over the age of 40, you know who Chuck Barris is. You have seen at least one episode of The Gong Show. You are probably aware that Barris, known to the world as the creator of over 15 popular (yet cheesy) game shows of the 60’s and 70’s, took exploitation of the common man to a new, and decidedly unrefined, level. He did this by preying on humanity’s natural disposition to indulge a common guilty pleasure, watching people make idiots of themselves.  And as for those goofs that Barris cultivated as contestants: where did he find all those people? They are a dime a dozen. We all know that a large segment of society neglect any pursuit of personal excellence, or work to elevate themselves up Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.” Why bother when there is a chance to win instant fame on The Dating Game?  Hey, it worked for Farrah Fawcett.

The Gong Show, in fact, was a parade of talentless, clueless schleps. We pitied them, that they must have been dense people indeed to be talked into fifteen minutes of fame-by-public-humiliation. The Gong Show was no different from watching a train wreck: you can’t stop it from happening, the progression is relentless, and it is hard to turn away from the gory spectacle. But Chuck Barris did not seem to have any trouble finding lots of contestants willing to go along with dismembering their dignity on national TV. Some complained that Barris’ contribution to society was accelerating it towards ruination, but complaints would not counter the ratings.

Being a man of an odd set of talents himself, Barris says he did more than offer gutter-level television entertainment. He also claims that he made the world safe for democracy by being an undercover spy during the Cold War. Amazing!

The CIA laughs as it denies Barris’ claim that he served as a NOC agent during the years he produced all those game shows. But it leaves us to consider that only one of two realities could be true: 1) Either Chuck Barris was able to use his people-manipulating talents on some of the most cunning minds working the Eastern Block, or 2) He possesses career-long evidence that you can make gobs of money by fooling most of the people most of the time. Plus, you can get away with anything if you are brazen enough, since most people will not try to stop you. Further, they will likely be entertained by you in the process. More proof of Barris’ belief in this axiom can be seen by Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, the book and movie of his (outrageously fabricated?) biography.

So, you ask, where is this GOOOHing?

The people who are willing to sit back and be entertained (or otherwise engaged) by the likes of Chuck Barris are the same people who are willing to sit back and tolerate, and even continue to vote for, the elected schleps on The Hill. Those people are us. Why do we do it?

Our willingness to suffer bad governance is due to a game our human nature likes to play called “pass off”. In “pass off” the objective is to try to do nothing in the face of a looming problem. Participants of “pass off” can justify doing nothing in one of several ways. They can dismiss the problem as too big for such a small segment of society to change. They can discount the motives of those championing a solution. They can argue that they are too busy taking kids to soccer practice (a strategy of “pass off” known as “put off”). Any of a thousand excuses can be used to “pass off” a problem to be the concern of someone else, anything to not have to personally invest in the potential solution.

It’s the path of least resistance for us: it is easier to be entertained by the contrivances of our political leadership (i.e., laugh at it or gripe about it) than to do something to remedy the problem that is causing it.  We often eschew the notion that our efforts will do any good.  We often discount the efforts of others. People continue to complain that a standard needs to be raised up against the status quo caused by America’s political power mongers, and yet those who are trying to lift up a standard are not taken seriously. We can be certain, however, that our political leadership is enjoying a system that supports their ability to make gobs of money by fooling most of the people most of the time. And most assuredly, they believe they can get away with it simply by being brazen enough, since most people will not try to stop them. Further, they know you will likely be entertained by their antics. It is a pretty good bet, however, that in the commission of all their antics our politicians are not making the world safe for democracy.

But we can be optimistic in this: We can, on occasion, defy our baser natures in brilliant ways.

We live in a country that became great because a small segment of its countrymen went against the status quo. They refused to play “pass off.” They went against the most powerful monarchy in the world, and stood as revolutionaries in spite of the vast majority of the population choosing to do nothing.

America became a reality because people like John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin defied that disposition in our human nature to lie down and be victims. They chose to risk the possibility of failure, and ultimately execution for treason against the crown, to bring a better and more noble system of self-governance to this country. GOOOH is a plan to reform our system of government back to what Washington, Adams, and Jefferson intended it to be, by removing control from those corrupt men who have manipulated the system for so many decades to secure their positions of supreme power that were meant to be positions of supreme service. GOOOH offers an intuitive and Constitutional solution to this problem. It has merit and support, but more people need to become aware of GOOOH, how it works and why it is worthy of popular support. Also, there is no risk in investigating or supporting GOOOH. We all know, however, there is terrible risk if we continue to do nothing.

So instead of indulging the guilty pleasure of watching our elected representatives make idiots of themselves in DC, why not participate in a solution that will eliminate career politicians and put people in office who are bound to represent on the actual issues. I must confess, I believe this is a noble pursuit. I believe we might risk elevating the common voter to a more educated political disposition. What indeed would we do if the people of this country became more astute of its political process – if the process in turn cultivated better involvement of the voter?

Yes, that might be dangerous indeed.

It is a truth borne throughout history that most souls will choose to participate in the spectacle of human oppression rather than the spectacle of human liberation. But to which group do you belong? That is the prevailing question I pose to you.

So please consider becoming a dangerous person. Spread the word on your Facebook account and have your friends become aware of and check out It is worth your time.

1 comment:

  1. K,
    Then came JERRY SPRINGER who made Barris look like a member of the clergy.

    And if I stumble across one more episode of Leno's "Jaywalking," I'll stuff my head into the over. It's an electric unit, so I'll have a few minutes to reconsider my decision. I just pray that those folks don't reproduce.

    The whole "comfort zone" thing has frustrated many of us since becoming aware and active. Crowding into those zones can produce reactions ranging from agitation to rage. I've seen nearly all of them in the 30+ years I've been attempting to awaken those around me.

    One such incident occured between me and an old friend.

    One beautiful Fall night in 1980, I took Al to a lovely Stone Mountain home to hear Larry McDonald deliver his close to 2 hour program on what many have come to believe is an ongoing “conspiracy” to alter life in America and the “Free World” to something other than that intended by most of our Founding Fathers.

    There were about 50 of us in the spacious and comfortable basement recreation room. Larry began his customary comprehensive and concise recap of a very complicated and convoluted topic shortly before 7:30. He wrapped up for Q&A around 9:15. Although I had wanted to remain and chat with Larry and the others, Al, who sat virtually motionless next to me for the entire presentation, insisted we leave immediately. Since he was my guest and I drove, we left.

    We’d been in the car for 3 or 4 minutes and Al had still not spoken but stared straight ahead. I glanced over each time we passed a street light and THOUGHT I saw him begin to physically shake and clutch the door handle. Sensing that there might be something wrong, I asked him “Al, are you alright?”

    After a slight hesitation, a low, quivering voice I’d never before heard issued from this normally jolly friend of over a decade:

    “Dick, don’t EVER invite me to anything like that again!” His response to my “Why?” was “I CAN’T DEAL WITH IT.”

    Al and I remained friends. He resumed his uncomplicated life of running his printing business, spending week ends at his lake house on his pontoon boat and enjoying increased quantities of adult libations, for which increase I earnestly hoped Larry and I weren’t responsible.

    I continued to slug it out with the beast.

    You see, I had CHILDREN – and now grandchildren -- who will almost certainly NOT live in the America I knew growing up.

    GOOOH is on the right track but there is much more -- and I do mean MUCH MORE -- work to be done!

    We best be about it.


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