Bear-baiting was a blood thirsty spectator sport in England that existed from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. In a deep pit, a bear would be pitted against trained fighting dogs. You can imagine the results. Vicious animals tearing flesh from each other as a shouting crowd – their blood up – howl their approval. Thank goodness we have moved beyond this.
Or have we?
I like voting-out-shows. You know the ones – Masterchef, Survivor and The Great British Bake-off are my popular go-tos. When there’s no Masterchef, I’ll get hooked on My Kitchen Rules, but I like it less because of the high ratio of bitching and fighting to actual cooking. But it’s my “guilty pleasure”. We use this term to describe something we know we shouldn’t have/watch/eat/do, but we do anyway. It’s how we justify things we know are either bad for us, or may result in some kind of judgement on our behaviour. With TV it’s usually the fear of being judged for really low-brow telly shows. Yeah. Like we all only watch documentaries and the news.
But the recent series of Married at First Sight (MAFS) is changing my opinion of “guilty pleasures”. This is the show where a group of wannabe D-list celebrity nobodys marry someone without meeting them first. Then we watch to see if true love unfolds. Except it’s not an interesting social experiment. It’s bear baiting.
It could be any of these kinds of shows (Love Island, and increasingly The Batchelor and The Bachelorette, the list is long these days). But this season of MAFS has been a zenith for verbal abuse from both men and women, lying, cheating, dodging, and basic unpleasantness from everyone. It is the worst kind of behaviour you can imagine, probably edited for additional drama and shock factor.
And what does that say? The producers and editors are editing this garbage into a package of slop they think we want to shovel down with the rest of the trash that’s out there. Do we love it because that’s what they feed us or is this what we feed us because this is what we love? At the end of the day it makes no difference. We are no different to a Medieval mob baying for blood.
At some point we have to decide what we’re willing to accept. At the moment, what we’re willing to accept is this festering pile of detritus.
The only way things change is for a lot of people to act individually. It’s when we all make better choices. Just don’t watch this bilge. Why? Apart from the fact that it’s a smouldering pit of animal sediment, it’s a sign of how socially numb we’ve become.
When everyone is doing it, it’s easy to go along. But Proverbs 4:23 says “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Jesus, in the gospel of Luke explains that “a good man brings good things out of the good stored up i his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45).
Now this is not a rebuke or a call to ban shows, burn books or get crazy. I’m saying that our choices are not morally or spiritually neutral. I’m saying that our hearts, unguarded, become blind or numb or both. And from that numbness, comes what we think is appropriate behaviour.
We’re better than that. And frankly we should be bloody outraged – not just because this show speaks to spirit of nastiness and viciousness that our society applauds, and not just because TV executives think so little of our intellect that they produce these vats of toilet sweepings by the truck load. But because this is not what we were made for.
We are better than this. We were made for more. Don’t waste it with this offal. Be awake. There’s plenty of other (less harmful) trash to watch instead. Choose wisely.
“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17). Our wisdom is a gift. God guides us in our discipleship and growing discernment. Use it. Choose thoughtfully. Choose wisely.