Archie Bunker (played by Carroll O'Connor), who personified boorish, crass, and ignorant attitudes and behavior during much of the 1970s on Norman Lear's TV series All in the Family.
A grad school friend of mine, currently living and working in Budapest, recently lamented the apparent absence of manners, tact, and style (in a very broad sense) across so much of society. She felt that there are now many who long for greater civility and decency in the way we behave alone and in the company of others. Indeed, it seems that too many in 2014 see nothing wrong with boorish, crass, rude, ignorant, and just plain stupid behavior. . . if they don't celebrate it outright. . . which many do. At least that is how things seem too much of the time and in too many places.
That's especially true where popular entertainment is concerned, much of which seems to glorify the offensive and the ignorant. Think of TV over the last 40+ years from programs like All in the Family in the 1970s, or still later in Rosanne and Men Behaving Badly during the late 80s and 90s, to more recent shows like The King of Queens and Jersey Shore for example. No wonder so many people behave so awfully. . . and seem proud of it.
As Emily Nussbaum suggested in her article on the phenomenon of All in the Family and it's protagonist Archie Bunker, which appeared in The New Yorker at the start of April this year, far too many average people identify with -- and even worship -- these so-called actors, their characters, and/or personalities. Viewers misunderstand and misinterpret what they are presented with on TV, film, and online, instead seeing the ignorant attitudes, uninformed opinions, and crass behavior as, somehow, an affirmation of their own foibles rather than as offensive and somewhat less than worthy of emulation.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the attitudes and behavior of many people mirror what they see in the media. After all, why bother to aspire to anything better or change oneself when people with foul mouths and loud voices -- often enough media darlings who inexplicably are accorded star status -- not only get away with but are actually paid to spew out coarse language and engage in offensive behavior, right?
However, life need not remain at the level of the lowest common social and behavioral denominators. We could go a long way toward improving our everyday style quite a bit were we simply to refuse to continue behaving like the goons on Jersey Shore and expect better of ourselves. Average guys with more than a couple of brain cells to rub together, and who realize the need to kick up their everyday style several notches, can reverse this disturbing trend and make a move in the direction of greater civility, starting with their own attitudes and actions.
How might you do so? Easy. Just say "No!" to the continued glorification of the boorish, the crass, the rude, the ignorant, and the stupid. Let's make every effort in our own lives and interactions not to be that way ourselves. Grooming, manners, tact, finesse, and sophistication are the goal. Their cultivation, practice, and perfection won't solve all of the world's problems, of course, but society might gradually become a wee bit nicer in the process.