Media Have Made Traditional Values the Counterculture
When Americans triumphed in the Revolutionary War, it was said that the world had turned upside down.
It has happened all over again 228 years later, except this time it's not the government that's changed, it's the culture. The 1960s ushered in counterculture in a big way. Long hair, psychedelic music, drugs and free love dominated the landscape for young people as many rebelled against traditional values.
But all that is as passé as Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners." In the eyes of the media, the counterculture won. As a society, we no longer celebrate the good things in America. The heroes of yesteryear are as hard to find as the use of the word "yesteryear." Valiant soldiers, astronauts, police officers and more have been torn down, criticized and destroyed by the keepers of our pop culture. Replacing them are street thug rappers, clueless athletes and brainless Hollywood stars.
America has been fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for years. We've had 10 of our service people award the Congressional Medal of Honor. If you can name one of those recipients, you are probably a relative. How many Americans have heard of Lt. Michael P. Murphy and how he and his four-man SEAL team fought 30 or 40 Taliban fighters. Murphy lost his life radioing for help for his men. Of the three broadcast networks, only NBC mentioned his heroism.
If only he'd been the star of a sleazy TV sitcom having a mid-life crisis reportedly involving drugs, living with two women (including one a former porn star) and getting fired. Actor Charlie Sheen was covered like he was actually somebody important. He's not. Still, ABC, CBS and NBC used 38 separate broadcasts to give viewers 4 hours, 51 minutes and 1 second of Sheen.
It's embarrassing that so-called journalists cared more about Sheen's "tiger blood" than the actual blood being shed by genuine heroes fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gone are the days when a hero like WWII's Audie Murphy gets made into a huge action star. Instead, the best we can hope for is the feel-good story of wounded Iraq veteran J.R. Martinez winning a mirror-ball trophy for his "Dancing With the Stars" victory.
As for astronauts, we've all but killed the manned space program. And police are now made to star in a 24-7 reality TV series on the Internet called Occupy Wall Street. There, no matter what they do, they are "pigs" and the Occupiers throw batteries, paint, even feces at the officers.
Rappers, on the other hand, are beloved by TV, because they're "keeping it real." As real as mansions, limos and bottles of Cristal can be, I guess. Rappers like 50 Cent or Kanye West are fixtures on news and entertainment shows as we wait for 50 Cent to bash another group on Twitter or Kanye to make another award show scene. Athletes are no better. Even in the midst of the NFL season, the NFLCrimes blog keeps busy with tales of arrest and even prison for top stars, presumably paid well enough to be able to stay out of jail for 17 weeks.
Every day brings new reminders that the more embarrassing your life, the more the tabloid news media will cover (or uncover) you. Many of the most familiar "star" names have so many stupid anecdotes, it's impossible to mention them all in one column. Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Vanessa Hudgens have all embarrassed themselves with inappropriate photos. And they're all former Disney actresses. The D in "Disney" must mean depraved.
But it's not like its Disney's fault. Hollywood produces more garbage every year and hides that fact with improved special effects and animation. Top films no longer even vaguely resemble real life or real people. We have wizards and superheroes and toy cars. But few movies of anything even resembling real life.
Even the most essential parts of the family unit - hard-working fathers, understanding mothers and studious children - have become punch lines to a culture that celebrates the movie "Jackass" and daily chronicles of YouTube stupidity. Ride a bike off of a roof and smash to the ground and you can get your 15 minutes of fame as that video goes viral. Defend you nation or your faith and you are ignored or reviled.
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow's whole life is a miracle. Tim's mother Pam "contracted amoebic dysentery and the medicines used for her recovery threatened her unborn" child. She was urged to get an abortion and did not. Now, Tim is the starter for a team that was 1-4 when he took over. Since then, he's taken his team to a 6-5 record, just one game out of first place. He's done it with grit and determination, especially since his team traded their star receiver just days before he took over.
But despite that record of victory, Tebow is skewered by those who hate him, not for his success or even his team. No, they hate him for his Christian faith. Tebow has always been very public about that, giving to charity, professing his belief in God and even wearing Bible verses in the eye black beneath his eyes. Even former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer took Tebow to task wanting him to be silent about his faith, saying, "when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I'll like him a little better."
For his part, Tebow isn't giving in, calling his "relationship with Jesus Christ" "the most important thing" in his life. Maybe he'll never be a great NFL quarterback or maybe he'll prove skeptics wrong and lead the Broncos to Super Bowl supremacy. That doesn't matter. Standing up for his faith. That's what makes Tim Tebow a hero - not football. He knows he'll be attacked for it because he is setting a standard and asking others to live up to it. And that doesn't stop him.
He's a rare reminder of what America used to be before the world turned upside down.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.