"Remember those magazine ads for Time-Life books, the ones showing "The Ascent of Man," a conga line of ape-like creatures, knuckles scraping the ground, ascending to more upright spear carriers until finally reaching Homo sapiens status?
TV reverses that process. TV keeps taking us in the opposite direction, leaving each generation a little lower. If there was ever any doubt, a recent "Rachael Ray Show," seen here weekdays on Ch. 7 at 10 a.m., removed it. Ray's guest was actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, best known for his role as Denny on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy."
Twice, within a few minutes, he described something as "crap" or "crappy." He could have used "junk" or "cheap" or "cheesy" or a dozen other words. Instead, he sat on the set of a national TV show and easily and breezily went with "crap."
And it was no big deal.
And that's the troubling part. It was okay. Okay? Hey, it's preferred. Always reach down for the most vulgar or crude words that can be spoken. TV wouldn't have it any other way.
I'm not eager to write some of the words I'm about to write, but what better way to make the point? Besides, TV has helped mainstream all of them, and it can only get worse. There's no reason to think that TV's "Reverse Ascent of Man" process will soon be reversed.
We've already noted "crap." Why use junk when you can go with something crude, something scatological?
For years, on TV, a "that stinks" lament was heard and understood. But "stinks" was eventually replaced in scripts and even free-form dialogue to become "that sucks," something more sexual, vulgar and lower. And even sucks now isn't low enough; it has been replaced with "that blows" - just to remove any doubt where sucks came from, where TV is headed and where it leads us."
Well why not? Celebrities like Rachael Ray openly support mutts like Barack Obama, wear moslem scarves to be seen as oh-so-IN, promote and adore all things liberal and have about as much inherent elegance as alley-dozing hobo's. If there's a lowest common denominator they not only strive for it they make it obligatory.
TV hasn't turned to crap, it always was. Difference between then and now being at least they sometimes tried to make it appear palatable but don't have to anymore because the universal class-quotient has descended to beneath subterranean.