TV’s support of ‘Swamp People’ shows larger societal problems

Swamp People

By Kendall Kaut

Making the case that a large majority of today’s television is awful only requires examining two specific networks and how much they have each devolved.

Social theorists have spent many hours lamenting the History Channel’s decision to switch to a soapbox for individuals who believe aliens are the answer to any question without a solution. There is more to understand here, however, than the failure of one network.

America bears a heavy burden in this fiasco. I am not trying to demean anyone who avoided watching specials on the French Revolution or other major events. However, I will call out a society that has made “Swamp People” the third most popular show on cable.

I also will not hesitate to wallow in sadness at the spectacle of the “Jersey Shore” entering season five on MTV as cable’s second most popular show. There was a day when being able to recall memories of an MTV that played music was doable, yet this gets harder to do each day.

One program that has been relied upon for many years is at its best this year, because that program is the NBA playoffs.

Today, the NBA will begin first round playoff action. This season will feature teams that are as talented as any have been in recent years. The Memphis Grizzlies enter the Western Conference as the fourth seed, yet they feature one of the most balanced teams in the league with all-star Marc Gasol joining a recently returned Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay to form a team that is becoming a hot pick to win the West.

The defending NBA champions are the seventh seed in the West, while a team with Carmelo Anthony is seventh in the East. All of these players are capable of making plays and turning games around in an instant.

This is not 2004 or 2005, where the thought of watching the Pistons and the Spurs might have justified viewers flocking to “South Beach Tow.”

For those not into these playoffs, have no fear in joining the 8 million people who will make the same decision and watch “2 Broke Girls” at 8:30 P.M. on Tuesday.

This season will also be one of the last to see some of the elite players make a run at the championship. While the Celtics’ big three will all still return next season, they are running out of time. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce have all been in the NBA longer than any sitcom. Avery Bradley is presenting a tough matchup for them with the Atlanta Hawks and then they’ll have a chance to meet the Bulls and the Heat.

Kobe Bryant will still be around, but the Lakers will have to contend with an experienced Oklahoma City Thunder and a healthy Memphis squad in the West in the next several years. This season seems to be one of the last good chances for his squad to emerge from the West. But of course, why would you want to watch this when you could see if this year’s winner of “American Idol” can reach the pinnacle that Ruben Studard and Taylor Hacks have met?

Finally, watching the playoffs is essential because of the storylines each series will bring. LeBron James will likely win his third Most Valuable Player award shortly but he still is missing a championship. After questions of shrinking in the fourth quarter in last year’s NBA finals all eyes will be on James to see if he can perform.

The Spurs championship window was considered closed after last season’s embarrassing exit as the top seed against the Memphis Grizzlies. This season, they will try and prove that a deep team is the route to a title, as opposed to Miami’s philosophy that assembling three All-Stars and the best player alive will get the job done.

The Clippers have been one of the worst major sports franchises of all time but this year, behind Chris Paul, the NBA’s best point guard, they have the chance to finally show that the team Billy Crystal roots for in L.A. is better than the team Khloe Khardashian was at one point in time associated with.

The Pacers represent the under appreciated guy in life. Although there is nothing particularly overwhelming about Danny Granger or Roy Hibbert they enter the playoffs the third seed in the East, they are trying to demonstrate that a team outside of a top 10 market can win.

However, I still know the difficulty many viewers will face when the choice comes down to watching the playoffs or believing that “Two and a Half Men” is even better without Charlie Sheen. How could you want to watch the NBA over that?

The Roman Empire finally collapsed in 476. While it is easy to point to the proximate cause being weak growing seasons, overstretch, or inflation based on bad monetary policy of Diocletian there are many who pinpoint the intellectual and moral decay of the Roman populace as being instrumental in the downfall.

Today, it is difficult to imagine America’s best days are ahead of it, when in the days ahead “Swamp People” will find a place in 2 million homes. The solutions to what ails America might call for making tough decisions about reducing the welfare state, raising taxes and restricting foreign entanglements.

What is also paramount, though, are the small and seemingly inconsequential decisions that are leading to the intellectual and moral decay of our society.

Watching the playoffs might seem like a convenient way to avoid studying for finals or considering what life will entail after graduation, but when considered from the angle of stopping the dominance of “Swamp People” and “2 Broke Girls,” the rationale is far stronger.