June 1st, 2010
|03:51 am - Quiet day + poisonous TV & an encounter with a pig|
So, we had a very quiet Memorial Day – we all spent some time together, then amberite went out to volunteer at the first aid station for the Rose Festival for the afternoon. Then teaotter & I went out to have dessert and snacks with xtricks. All in all a quiet day, and made better by the fact that Becca took the day off from writing her novel – her final draft is now 90% complete, and so I saw more of her today than I have in most recent days.
However, there was a bit of oddness in the early afternoon. One of the cable stations was running an all-day marathon of a very strange show called "Hoarders", about interventions for people with obsessive-compulsive hoarding disorder. None of us had ever seen in, and Becca was curious about what sort of messages it was presenting and pushing (not unexpected for someone who majored in Communications Studies in college) and sat down to see what an episode was like. Neither Alice nor I had any interest in it, but it was clearly audible through most of the house. Within 20 minutes, I was helping Alice put away grocery's she'd gotten, and we found ourselves arguing a bit nastily about finding places for things in the freezer and how crowded the freezer was.
Then, we all sat down, and Alice explained how listening to the show made her feel that any minute Becca or I would yell at her about being a slob, and I mentioned that I had been getting exceedingly defensive about how much food was in the freezer and how crowded the food I had bought had become, and we both realized exactly how powerful hearing that show on in the background had been. In retrospect, this is hardly surprising, since it was chock full of various cultural narratives about clutter, filth, and shame and is honestly the sort of thing that makes you want to throw out 3/4s of your possessions after listening to it for 15 minutes. I've actually never encountered TV that is remotely that mentally poisonous before, but I suspect that there's much more out there, out there. Once again, I'm pleased with my decision to only watch various SF shows, some relatively fluffy and inoffensive crime and caper shows on the USA network, cooking shows, and the occasional nature or science show.
In any case, to round out the weekend, Becca and I saw something I didn't expect when we were walking home from getting a snack on Sunday - a pot-bellied pig grazing in someone's yard in our neighborhood. The people next to us keep chickens (thankfully, no roosters), and a couple blocks away, someone with a pet pig, all in inner SE Portland
|Pig in yard
Current Mood: tired
|Date:||June 1st, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)|| |
Love the pig! It looks so very comfortable there.
And absolutely fascinating about the TV influence. Yes, I think that many people get that more than you and are less aware of it than you.
|Date:||June 1st, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC)|| |
That's a gorgeous pig; so fuzzy. And a very eye-opening and ugly experience.
It's been a heck of a long time since I watched any TV whatsoever (that was actually delivered via broadcast methods, and not, say, TV shows on DVD). This makes me glad. I remember in my childhood, British TV at least wasn't poisonous at all; it was pretty thoughtful and educational. Sad to see how much things have plummeted.
I wonder how much of the anti-hoarding phenomenon has to do with the anti-"obesity" phenomenon. There's the same sort of value-judgment, the same sort of appearances-reflecting-moral-quality language happening in the media and culture. One more way for people to feel they've got the moral high ground on other people.
I'm not sure there really is an anti-hoarding phenomenon, but there does appear to be a subgenre of reality tv that focuses on mental health issues and treatment.
I would say that one could compare hoarding to obesity or to addiction but we are not talking garden variety mess OR fat OR escapism. We are talking about people whose lives have been taken over by stuff, food, drugs, shopping, gambling, etc... with dire even fatal consequences
The rhetoric around obesity doesn't just include people whose lives have been taken over by food or whatever. The rhetoric includes anyone who might have a few "extra" pounds on them, according to the ever-shrinking insurance and healthcare charts. And it is full of judgments of moral worth, attractiveness, and oh-no-look-at-these-awful-slobs-who-lack-the-willpower-to-be-thin-like-us-virtuous-people. And the rhetoric around hoarding is turning into the same sort of shaming.
Right now, the people on television are, by and large, the folks whose lives and homes have been taken over, but I'm betting that in a year or two, the rhetoric will expand. I know people who are not, in fact, hoarders who have taken the label unto themselves as a process of self-shaming (I've helped hoarders clean out and move; these people are not among them, or anywhere NEAR that level of dysfunction). And they're extending the definition to those around them, participating in the cultural poison that is scapegoating.
I know what you mean.
I too have had about enough of this "obesity epidemic". When a measure as dubious as the Body Mass Index is used to decide if someone is physically OR mentally healthy or not, we have a problem. As with weight, people do tend to judge their homes and those of others by the pictures of clean and orderly perfection they see in the media.
It seems to me that much of what you are talking about is a combination of the rather nasty human desire to feel superior to others even if means denigrating them and a particularly ruthless and, yes, downright CRUEL, consumer culture. Shame is a ubiquitous and effective marketing tool in our society. Just as with weight, American spend beaucoup bucks on organizational aids. I suspect that this has more to do with those example of perfection I mentioned than with Hoarders, but showing those "clean my messy house" shows might offer that extra consumer incentive, eh?
There is another aspect of this problem as well. There is a tendency in our society to pathologize just about every human trait that doesn't fit into some arbitrary defination of normality. At the same time that this can be used to stigmatize and disparage, it can also be a way to relinquish responsibility for one's own life. In addition to creating a deep and abiding sense of helplessness, this leaves one vulnerable to the predation of the traditional and alternative medicine crowd.
Excellent observation, the show had very much the same feel as fat shaming.
*nod* There's a definitely reason I won't watch shows of either sort. Especially since I'm a fat person who likes having a lot of stuff. Don't need that kind of negativity in my life, thanks.
Yes - I knew it reminded me of something (especially the over-the-top sinister music) and that's what.
Congratulate yourselves on a full freezer:
More stuff and less empty space means it doesn't have to use as much energy to keep it cold: )
In truth, 15 minutes in the house of a hoarder has the same effect on me as watching that show! I wonder if those addiction shows also make people hypersensitive to their own foibles.
Being a part of a couple emergency partial clearouts for the hoarder in my life was one of the most frustrating interpersonal experiences of my life. I have also helped various friends and relatives who were self-admitted slobs and/or packrats organize their stuff at one time or another. The difference is more than one of degree; one is a matter more of apathy than anything else, whereas the other is fueled by profound anxiety.
I watch Hoarders, I know I have too much Stuff, but, not as bad as the people on the show. The part that gets me about that program is the way they portray the people who wont part with their extreme amount of stuff at the expense of family and friends. They dont view it as a problem.
That is one handsome pig. :-)
I only watch downloads or DVDs, and I think that the result of selecting my viewing (and avoiding advertising wherever possible) has made me a much saner happier person.
(Your story about the clutter show reminds me of the time I decided to try and write a Harlequin romance for the money. I had to read some first, so I bought a couple, and half-way through the second, I started to feel miffed with my partner because he never brings me flowers or jewels, and we don't dine in fancy places. Thing is, I don't like bouquets or jewels or haute cuisine. It's just such an invasive narrative/world, that it had thrown me out of myself. Happily, when I threw the book across the room (and later into the trash), the bad feelings went away. ;-P)
It's fascinating seeing the clutter/obesity parallel discussed in the comments here.