The cultural sky is falling. Again.
Some will say stories like this, and the Texas high school cheerleader scandal, don't indicate anything more than the fact that the media is now giving these stories play. I.e., this has always been going on, now our sensationalist, 24-hour-cycle media is just telling us about it.No, that's nonsense. The republic is not crumbling. The culture isn't any sicker than it might have been 10, 20, 30, 50 or 100 years ago. If you don't believe me then Google the title The Illustrated Book of Filthy Victorian Photographs (But not at work.) I'll wait.
That's nonsense. This has never happened before.
The real reason that this stuff is so ubiquitous can be summed up in three words. Cheap. Digital. Cameras. Not only can images be dumped from them into the computer in seconds and, from there, whisked around the world, but, because they do not create a negative or even a polaroid print, there is the feeling (not quite the illusion, but it's close) of safety--that you can limit access to the image by controling its movement. You can even delete it immediately after it's taken, if you want. (But, unless you're really hoping to be the next signifier of the cultural apocalypse and absolutely sure that you never want to run for office, I wouldn't trust that.) It is that simple.
I would argue actually that there are some signs of hope in our cultural trends. The fact that we laughed about Britney Spears' public display of her hoohah, but rent our proverbial clothes and gnashed our teeth over Michael Richards' and Mel Gibson's tirades is a sign, from my point of view, that the culture is actually better than before. Silly people showing their asses is much less important than a cultural undercurrent of racism, ne c'est pas? I think it's good that we live in a culture waking up to that realization.
(H/T Sadly, No!)