Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When I Look At The World: Cynicism vs. Pollyanna

I wonder if it's inevitable to grow cynical.

You reach a certain point in your life and you've seen it all. People behaving badly? What else is new?

The last couple of weeks I've found myself looking at some specific and disparate situations and wondering what the hell is wrong with people?

First is the situaiton with Leno and Conan. I don't know what NBC was thinking, other than money, money, money when they gave Leno his 10 p.m. show. That move not only cost them money in the long run in lost viewers, it has ultimately cost them good will. Worse yet? The whole debacle makes Leno come off looking like a total ass in his inability just to step aside. The thing is, he's not doing anything different than the rest of his Boomer comrades, refusing to step aside for the ideas and values of a younger generation. His brand of stale humor may play well to people of a certain age, but that's a demographic whose influence is fading. I fear he has lost the good will of the 24-49 year old set by simply not stepping aside to allow Conan his time to shine as host of The Tonight Show. I know, I won't be watching that show anymore even though we previously did. Of course, we began watching it as precursor to Conan back when we had our first child and were up every two hours for feedings. I have fond memories of Conan's Lullaby and maybe I relate to him because his kids are so close in age to mine. Whatever my reasons for appreciating Conan O'Brien, I know that there's no way I'm going back to watching a Leno hosted Tonight Show and I fear NBC has killed that franchise and Leno has illustrated what an ego-driven person he is by refusing to give someone else a chance.

The next frustrating issue on my list of reasons our culture is dying out is the lack of fresh and original ideas and the willingness of megacorps to steal and render bland and tasteless the fresh and original ideas of others.

I am the first to admit that Thomas the Tank Engine is not high art. But, the videos are based on the original stories of Rev. W. V. Audry which he wrote for his own son. The stop-motion videos are cute-creepy, variously narrated by the likes of Alec Baldwin, Ringo Starr, and George Carlin. As the mother of two sons, I've grown to love those cheeky little engines and find myself telling my sons they are "bossy boilers" or that they are "causing confusion and delay," whenever they misbehave.

So, it was with great dismay last week that I learned that Disney has now come out with its own train cartoon called Chuggington. And it could not be a) a bigger rip-off (What?! Anthropomorphic trains that misbehave and have to learn a lesson? Get out!) and b) more craptacular! I hate Disney's brand of really bad CGI that looks like something some dude did on his PC in the basement. I swear there's not an original thinker left at Disney with the exception of John Lasseter and I don't know if he has anything to do with their TV programming, but I would hope he wouldn't allow something so ugly and unoriginal to happen under his watch.

Then, today I read this piece. I can only imagine it's cheaper to hire a bunch of cheap Indian labor in Bangalore to render some lifeless and dull CGI instead of paying talented, creative model makers in Wales. Yet, I can't help but wonder if it's in response to Disney's thievery. Again, just dismayed at how little thought and humanity exist in "business."

So, that rounds out my week of realizing what a cold, cynical, narcissistic world we live in.

I have to say, I'd be more disappointed if I hadn't also seen some great examples of people taking time to show others they care for them...all the goodwill expressed to me around my birthday, friends volunteering to help me this week when Beckett and I both have had the flu, a new friend spending hours talking to and getting to know Scott, all of the world pulling together to help Haiti, my sweet son wanting to invite all the kids in his class to his party and shaming me when I point out that some of them have been cruel to him by saying, "Just because they're mean to me doesn't mean I can't be nice to them."

There is good in the world. I suppose I need to focus more on that than on all of the negative. The negative just wears me down so.