Fatal Attractions

“You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.” –James Thurber

I should have realized we were in deep shit as a society on 3 April 1978, the night Dallas burst onto American television. It was nothing but contrived, creaky, formulaic soap opera — but all dressed up for prime time. Somebody cynical had understood that people don’t really give a damn how outrageous and unscrupulous characters are, or how viciously they treat one another. As long as they’re pretty and have lots of shiny stuff, we love it.

When you think about it, the show was a perfect symbol of, and a most insidious propaganda vehicle for, the Randian/neoliberal agenda. Promoting and glorifying greed, selfishness, and lavish consumption. Sanctioning the relentless pursuit of dominance, profits and fossil fuels. Encouraging us to envy and idolize the rich and powerful, training us to exempt them from all normal standards of acceptable behavior.

I was in another room for Dallas’ debut, and totally missed all the ostentatious, seductive visuals. Since I only heard the painfully lame dialogue, my thought was, this thing will be off the air in two weeks. And I was ALMOST right — the series only lasted 14 seasons, with 357 episodes full of glitz, corruption and shitty writing. So much for my gifts of prophecy.

I’m not sure what brings this to mind now. Except this morning’s big news that US Navy SEALs have captured a “rogue” tanker carrying an estimated $20 million of ‘stolen’ Libyan oil reminds me of earlier covert missions. But somehow, something feels different these days. Weren’t such raids once made — at least occasionally — in order to save people, not just to assassinate them? Do we only rescue property now? This must be what we get when long-dead dinosaur compost means more to us than people … progress! Or something.
And as I write this, you know damn well someone already has a made-for-TV movie of this latest mission in post-production. It may not be popular though, with no violence or casualties reported in the whole operation. Sadly enough, it may be more dangerous to participate in a peaceful demonstration these days. C’est la vie.


About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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10 Responses to Fatal Attractions

  1. Wow! Linda, you’re a deep one, you are! But we’d better not have ‘peaceful’ demonstrations. You know that ‘peace’ shit ain’t profitable. It don’t hardly make no money. With ‘peace’ all over the place, whatever would we do with trillions of dollars worth of missiles, warships and tanks and drones and other related war paraphernalia? Now, that would just be pure waste, you understand. After all, we deprived children of a decent meal when we cut food stamps in order to pay defense contractors. Priorities, priorities and first things first, ya know! Those homeless people are sure glad to know that they were sacrificed to protect America from…hmmm…let me see…uh…well, from America! Oh, well, I really did try to help, only there’s no help for U.S.!

    Excellent post Linda, most excellent!

    • Shelby – I know, I know — a (land) mine is a terrible thing to waste. We certainly couldn’t have that! Trillionns for offense, but not one dime for compassion and humanity. Thanks for your good comment, and keep your powder dry. – Linda

  2. It’s hard for me to comment, as I have never seen a single episode of Dallas. I seemed to have missed most of of the hit TV series. We rarely watched TV in my home growing up – my mother was extremely skeptical of the ideas and values being promoted. My the time I had my own kid, I was fully aware of the brainwashing/disinformation function of TV.

    We had a TV but didn’t subscribe to cable or satellite. We only used it to watch rented videos.

    • Stuart, you do know there are folks who’d say you’ve been culturally deprived. Not me — I’m simply envious! I’d love to have all the time back I’ve wasted on television. To say nothing of the time spent searching for mislaid keys, hairbrushes, paperwork and stray earrings.

      Mostly, I’ve read or done other things whenever the TV’s on — why I wasn’t technically “watching” Dallas’ intro, for example. But it’s still hard on the nerves, and can’t be good for one’s mental health, even when they’re only selling us toothpaste. Thanks for your comment, and … now let’s see, I’m trying to be objective here … I honestly don’t believe I exaggerated in describing Dallas. But maybe it was just too profound for me, so I’ll leave it open for any dissenting opinions. Speak up folks! – Linda

  3. tubularsock says:

    Tubularsock gave up TV so long ago that I have never seen Dallas but just a hint …….

    Anything named Dallas can’t be good, period!

    Now, that is not to say that it wasn’t popular and your critique of this show is exactly on point that our society is in deep shit ……. you convinced Tubularsock!

    The Navy Seals are an example of the rats swimming to a sinking ship. And peat-moss is more valuable than a human life let alone “long-dead dinosaur compost”.

    Wow, your gift of prophecy is back, Linda!

    Tubularsock is going to be airing his new TV series, Seals It Up.

    It’s a sitcom.

    But this current Seal operation (the part you missed) was they were trying to find bin Laden. You see after they threw his body to the sharks which the Quran advised them to do as is the custom which is so respected by the Seals. After they had done that they recalled that if any part of bin Laden still exists then . . . well whose knows but YOU CAN’T TAKE A CHANCE!

    • Tube, I have it on good ‘authority’ that bin Laden’s been cloned and he was last seen in Washington, hobnobbing it with Despot Obadroner. Then there was another sighting where he was seen golfing with WackABush and BuyMyselfAHeartCheney.

      Oh and Linda, you did a real fine job on what Dallas was about. I think I checked out a few episodes and couldn’t stomach any more of that fake ass rot and all the double dealing and slutting around by J.R. And all those champagne flutes that were seemingly glued to J.R.’s hands, indeed held champagne as that’s what’s been said that did his ole liver in which got him a new one. He said he drank 4 bottles of champagne a day for 30 years and that would take anyone out of here. Yep, you did a real fine job on Dallas. It made me lose interest in TV.

    • Tubularsock – “Anything named Dallas can’t be good, period!”

      No shit! And no argument.

      Yet the “prophecy” bit still seems shaky, or I surely would have figured out what those SEALs were really up to. I AM sure it had absolutely nothing to do with respect for Libyan sovereignty, international law, or promoting peace, justice, freedom, democracy, or human rights and human dignity. But that hardly requires clairvoyance. Thanks for your comments, and um, good luck? with the sitcom, it sounds so tasteful and charming. – Linda

  4. Jeff Nguyen says:

    My family loved Dallas when I was a kid. They’re all Republicans coincidentally. Needless to say, we don’t see eye to eye on many things politically.

    • Jeff – Coincidentally nothing! I’m convinced Dallas is an unerring shibboleth for one’s potential? proclivity? to BE a reactionary. I know it way better than I ever wanted, as it’s been one of my mom’s favorites — something to be endured whenever I visited her. It’s a big piece of why the Republicans were (and still are!) so infatuated with Bush and Cheney — effectively, those two are “real-life” Ewings, with ethics to match. Thanks for your comment, you help support my theory! – Linda

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