SPORTS, POPULAR MUSIC, AND COMEDY: OPIATES OF A POST-MODERN SECULAR SOCIETY.
As one who still practices a form of conventional Christianity, (Roman Catholicism), in an extremely secularized society (Québec), I often have pause to analyse the transformation which has been wrought in our province, and to wonder aloud as whether all of the ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’, and ‘prosperity’ that we’ve inherited from the Quiet Revolution has really been worth it after all.
In pre-Quiet Revolution Québec, there was a very stable, yet fairly rigid social order, maintained by the Catholic clergy, and bolstered by the alliance between the staunchly right wing Union Nationale governments of Maurice Duplessis, and the Anglo-Canadian, American, and British business interests who dominated the economy. This arrangement kept a lid on social unrest, union agitation, and rising wage demands by workers.
However, the inexorable march of evolutionary and incremental change eventually pushed Duplessis and the clerics from power, and the Quiet Revolution, with its emphasis on welfare state reforms, increased taxes, state intervention, public education and health care reform, as well as social services reform, all were on the leading edge of social progress in their day.
What this has led to, however, is a society which is now so secularized, that the people’s thirst for spirituality and sanctification and meaning, which was never extinguished by the advent of secular, pluralist technocratic consumerism, is now being channelled through three very distinct pop cultural phenomena: Sports, popular music, and comedy.
Each of these activities seeks, in its own way, to supplant the old clerical system with a cohort of ‘deified’, or ‘demi-God’-like characters, such as athletes, pop singers, and comedians, all of whom are either revered as Gods, or whose words and actions are listened to and followed with the devotion of sheep who follow their Shepherd, as the faithful used to follow the words and actions of their priests and nuns so blindly in the day.
What we fail to realize is that they are just as likely to be tempted by the pleasures of the flesh, if not more so, than a priest is, and nobody holds them to account in the same way if they have a drug and alcohol problem, or if they commit an indiscretion with a minor, and so on. It is almost a prerequisite form of sensationalism that these pop-cultural ‘priests’, ‘priestesses’, and ‘demi-Gods’, act in a dissolute fashion, otherwise, what’s the point of being famous?
We seem to have become slaves of our own ‘liberty’, ‘freedom’, and ‘prosperity’. But just how ‘free’ and ‘prosperous’ are we? Are we not more prisoners of our own self-centredness and self-willed pursuit of hedonistic pleasure? Is that the true legacy of the Revolution that was ever so quiet? That it has given us a whole generation of navel-gazing, narcissistic pop-cultural ‘priests’, whose main purpose is to keep people entertained, laughing, cheering, and generally keeping their minds off of the higher pursuits in life? Unless, of course, they have some sort of political message to convey in their song or monologue concerning some pet political cause of theirs, then they’ll try and get you to think about that specific thing. Whoopee.
I don’t exactly call that a good example of a good priestly cast. I think I’ll stick with my Christianity. It’s been around for a bit longer, and has stood the test of time better than any of these other New Kids on the Block schmucks you see on TV nowadays. Amen to that.