Circus Maximus: American Culture

For those still expressing outrage over that steamy pre-game promotion preceding a recent Monday Night Football game: Get over it.

Not because you’re overreacting. Not because you just don’t “get it.” And not because “that’s ‘show biz.'”

But because it’s now too late to re-bottle the genie of mainstream cultural sludge.

Frankly, I was more offended by an NBC promo for “Thanksgiving Fear Factor.” It included, and I wish I were making this up, this reference by one of the participants: “Would you like some maggots with your mash potatoes?”

I guess that’s an edgy hoot to some. And truth be told, I might still be laughing if I were still 15. What’s being imposed is the sophomorizing – as well as the coarsening of the culture. You don’t have to check out BET Videos and Jerry Springer or review tapes of the Detroit Pistons-Indiana Pacers-drunken loser fans “basketbrawl” for a representative sampling.

But back to the MNF flap.

Prime time pro sports – notably basketball and football – have been chronic offenders in the poor-taste sweepstakes. From cheesy chorus lines to police-blotter players and gangsta promos. From “trash-talking” thuggery euphemized as cultural “gamesmanship” to cameras following and focusing on every boorish showboat’s customized choreography.

It is what it is, and the ratings and ad rates haven’t crested yet. As for that racy locker room exchange between Terrell Owens, the NFL poster child for stentorian stud, and some towel-clad bimbo from “Desperate Housewives,” it was merely an extension of an increasingly sleazy entertainment product.

And as black Indianapolis Colts’ coach Tony Dungy has pointed out, the offending cross-promotion of the NFL and “Housewives” even played the racial stereotype card – lest someone be left unoffended.

It was the height of hypocrisy for ABC, the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles organization to have feigned regret over the incident. After a few pro forma apologies, they were all high-fiving each other over their collective PR coup.

If you’re a parent, don’t waste your breath complaining; the league is more Ray Lewis than Derek Brooks. Might as well wax disturbed over an MTV Awards’ show. The best thing you can do is to be an example to your kids and not applaud the “colorful” antics of dysfunctional-culture athletes because they are home town players.

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