Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus was, during ancient Rome, a massive outdoor theater devoted to chariot races and other events such as gladiatorial contests. The structure occupied a huge section of a valley and could seat as many as 250,000 people. It is estimated to have been over 2000 feet in length and over 450 feet wide.

The size of Circus Maximus can roughly be compared to Nashville Superspeedway. Nashville only seats 200,000 people though. Hey, 50,000 people is a lot of people.

The structure was rebuilt several times during its existence after being destroyed by fire on three occasions. Interestingly, the second fire is well known to many people. Everyone just loves the story of Emperor Nero and his fiddle. That famous fire raged through Rome in AD64, and the violin wasn't invented until 1500 AD.

After the third fire, it was largely constructed of marble.

Circus Maximus operated from approximately the 6th century BC to 549 AD. After the fall of Rome, the structures were raided for building materials and today little remains visible of the structures that once occupied the site.

So, what's the big deal with a now long defunct circus?

I found my wife and daughter watching this nut ball game show tonight on TV. I guess the premise of the show is if you don't answer the questions correctly, your prizes are thrown off the roof of a building. I watched a car and a living room ensemble plunge off the roof before I retreated upstairs to hammer out this post.

Apparently, if the contestant really screws up, they throw the contestant off the roof as well.

On top of it all, it is hosted by a modern day gladiator, Chris Jericho.

Checkout DOWNFALL on ABC.

I've been disturbed for some time by the direction "entertainment" has taken. "Reality" based game shows such as "Survivor" are anything but "real". Shows like the "Bachelor", its politically correct twin "Bachelorette", the "Biggest Loser" and similar fare leave me slightly sickened by a glimpse into how apparently shallow and unsavory the bulk of the American public has become.

These popular shows cater to the most base of humanity's foibles; avarice, lust and a desire to stultify those less fortunate or capable.

Football, baseball, auto racing, and so many other children's games and so called "sports" have degenerated into nothing more than vehicles for advertising and spreading the message of corporations. The same corporations who steal from you, who have seized control of our government, nullified our laws, illegally abridged our borders, and even polluted the waters of the gulf.

I'm amazed by the rioting that takes place after a major sporting event. It often doesn't matter if a team won or lost. People just go out an riot, for what? Because they lost? Because they won? Can we get the same type of reaction when it matters? When Congress and Obama openly ignore and deride the opinion of the American people? When we don't just say "No", but "Hell NO!"?

Apparently not.

Tell this angry Wal-Mart customer that his anger and frustration is misplaced.

But just let there be a bad call at a little league game, and someone is going to get beat because of it.

Panem et Circenses.

Many seem to misunderstand exactly what the phrase "Bread and Circuses" means. It often is applied to the public and their desire for cheap food and extravagant entertainment. However, it is more accurately a strategy employed to govern a populace.

By providing a constant source of distraction, a government is able to pacify a population and paint those who object to the manner of governance as a threat. The distracted population sometimes reacts violently when confronted with the actual situation, and will work to silence those who threaten their continued entertainment.

Bear in mind that those being all too well entertained and fed often know in the back of their mind something very bad is looming on the horizon, hence the level of violence displayed when the status quo is threatened escalates rapidly.

At one time, ancient games were based along the lines of physical prowess and skill. Over time, as the societies began their decline, these games degenerated into bloody spectacles where animals and people were butchered by "champions" who easily outmatched their opponents.

There also seems to be a correlation between the nature of game shows and the rapidly deteriorating condition of modern society. In a few short years we have degenerated from shows such as "Jeopardy!", which requires a modicum of intelligence, to shows like "Hole In The Wall" where often physically unfit people are required to perform basic agility tasks.

And now we have "Downfall". Throw people off of buildings for entertainment.

I wonder how long until " The Running Man" and "Death Race" are real game shows. Pay attention to how society is portrayed in those movies and novels, and then take a look around you today.


idahobob said...

Another fine example why I have not had lame stream media programming in my home for about......over 30 years.

We do have a T.V. It is not attached to an antenna, cable, or satellite. It is used only for VHS or DVD, PERIOD!!


Ken said...

...welcome home Catman...

...i've used the analogy of animal crackers and cartoons,to pacify infants and toddlers,for 'bread and circuses'...pretty much same thing...shows the intelligence level of those partaking in TV these days...

Mayberry said...

Catman, I am often appalled at the mindless garbage my family watches. I am even more appalled when I hear my wife yakking on the phone to someone, thinking I can't hear, and telling them how "He's missing out, his loss" in reference to my refusal to sit in front of the idiot box and turn my mind to mush. Seriously, that makes me sick to my stomach.

Right now they're watching "America's Got Talent". I can hear it in the background. And I've never heard a bunch of people so pathetic, so LACKING in talent... Yet the morons in the audience clap and cheer. And my family sits and watches...

Unknown said...