Ages ago, one of my wife’s co-workers bought a rental property with a paid-up tenant, a little old lady who’d been there for years. The new owner wanted someone who could pay a higher rent, so she evicted the old woman–and came to work the next day bragging about it. “Just like J.R.!” she crowed.
She was referring to “J.R. Ewing,” the antihero played by Larry Hagman in the old TV series, Dallas. She was gloriously happy that she’d done something worthy of the villain in a TV show. (If you’re too young to have any idea what I’m talking about–well, go find out what I’m talking about.)
[Just in case you think God pays no attention to these things: The J.R. wannabe spent a lot of money remodeling the property and spiffing it up, and soon got the new tenants she asked for. They never paid the rent, and inside of two months, turned the place into a slum.]
As Solon once said, some 2,500 years ago, “If you put all those lies up on your stage, someday we’ll have them in our business.”
Far be it from me, as a story-teller, to say “No more story-telling!” But fiction can exert a powerful influence on the behavior of its consumers, and it’s so constantly available in so many different forms–novels, TV, comic books, movies, cable “news” shows. To what extent is our fiction responsible for the rotting-away of our Western culture? Is it the fault of amoral story-tellers who don’t care what they create, as long as it makes a buck? Or is it the fault of mindless consumers who will gobble up anything as long as it’s labeled “entertainment”?
PS–The link to “Dallas” was supposed to take you to the TV show, but the stupid computer decided you would be better served by a high-altitude aerial photo of the city of Dallas. If you want to find out about this classic TV show, the link to “J.R. Ewing” will get you there.