Why not let them go to the mat?

Reporting on the rumble at ringside could be Judith Regan, the literary promoter who met with widespread consternation, even shock, over her proposed deal to have O.J. Simpson write a book and appear on TV saying how he would have done it — the murder of his ex-wife and another man — if he did it, or at least if he had been present to witness it.

I conjure up this image not only because Trump happens to be a wrestling fan, but because the image approximates the reality and because we so often see something comparable go slithering by in the popular culture. If you then stay mum, refusing even to acknowledge this snake in our midst, you as much as encourage it to strike.

That’s part of the answer to people who insist you focus on more important issues. And there are, of course, more important issues than the petty backbiting of O’Donnell saying on “The View” that Trump was a “snake-oil salesman” who had frequently gone bankrupt and Trump responding on Fox TV that he had never gone bankrupt, might sue, and that, anyway, O’Donnell was a “fat slob” and a “bully.”

I would agree, as well, that there are far more important issues than exploiting a crime while enriching someone many suspect of committing it.

But the popular culture taken as a whole is itself hugely important. It’s ubiquitous in the lives of most of us whether we like it or not and functions less as a mirror reflecting what we are — though it does this to some extent — than as a force influencing our sensibilities.

If what we see and hear for many hours a week over many years is kind, generous, honest, courageous, intellectually acute, deep and morally alert, we are more likely to be fortified with thoughtfulness and goodness than if what we see and hear is boorish, tawdry, sensational, shallow, sometimes vile, morally obtuse and, at its worst, decadent.

The fortunate truth is that, just as our American society is a vast, diverse, sprawling, continental sort of thing, so is our popular culture. It ranges from the vulgar to the uplifting, with lots in between.

You can have someone like Trump getting constant attention because of his wealth, his flamboyance, a “reality” TV show about firing people, his multiple wives and refusing to boot Miss USA from her throne because she drank while underage.

You can have a comedienne like O’Donnell equating “radical Christianity” with Muslim terrorists, pronouncing on a host of other issues she doesn’t quite get and going into personal attack mode about Trump’s Miss USA decision while millions watch. And you can have Regan’s apparent sense that anything goes in search of commercial success. Then, for a counter example, there’s “Charlotte’s Web.”

This children’s book by E.B. White is now a movie in which delightful characters teach us about friendship, the trouble with watching out just for yourself and the glory of serving others out of love. It’s in the tradition of any number of children’s cinema classics — Disney’s early animated wonders come to mind — and along with a number of other proud moments in today’s popular culture, is a perfect response to the sorry moments. Criticism is crucial, but nothing drives out the bad as effectively as the good.

General OpinionOpinion

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Park Rangers have seen their budget and staffing levels increase significantly since 2014. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Citations for being in SF’s public parks after midnight soar

Data shows disproportionate impact on Black residents

Parents and students line up socially distanced before the first day of in-person learning at Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
‘It’s a beautiful sight’: The first students return to the classroom

San Francisco’s youngest public school students stepped into classrooms for in-person learning… Continue reading

File
Latest Breed nominee for Police Commission moves forward

Immigration attorney Jim Byrne clears Board of Supervisors committee

A rally at Golden Gate Park on Sunday April 11 drew a large crowd in support of calls to keep JFK Drive closed to traffic. (Emily Huston/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Hundreds rally for “JFK Thrive,” not JFK Drive

By Emily Huston More than two hundred gathered on a warm Sunday… Continue reading

San Francisco Giants pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (26) starts against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on April 11, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants finish sweep of Rockies behind DeSclafani’s scoreless outing

Even with fans back at Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants pitchers have… Continue reading

Most Read