Friday, June 11, 2010

Rex Reed Nation

At some point in time—where snowballing technological advances met the new kid on the block—America morphed into a Rex Reed Nation. As a mere lad in the mid-1970s, I was a faithful viewer of The Gong Show hosted by the eccentrically droll Chuck Barris. For lack of a more apt description, this daily fare was a slimmer budgeted, vastly less talented, considerably more ridiculous and insane version of America’s Got Talent and American Idol.

The show consisted of its quirky host and the three panelist judges who were empowered to cut short an act by hitting a very large gong with a gong banger—or whatever it is that one whacks a gong with? One of the three panelists was often the entertainingly snarky movie critic Rex Reed, renowned for his witty put-downs and irascible idiosyncrasies.

Flash forward three decades plus and we’ve become a nation of Rex Reeds—critics to the core and from a very young age, too. Cloaked in anonymity, sixth and seventh graders rate their teachers on a public forum, revealing their immaturity and, worse than that, boorishness and stupidity. Older kids and their adult enablers proudly run with the critic baton and take their reviews and commentaries to new heights—or, more aptly, new depths. No distinctions are made between reviews of products and flesh-and-blood human beings, and rarely do the critical masses consider the consequences of their words. It’s easy to bloviate with a user-name handle, the virtual equivalent of a bag over one's head.

Irresponsibility, uncouthness, and out-and-out dumbness were omnipresent back in the day, only the populace at large was constrained by technology. We kept our foolishness, incivility, and insensitivity withing our little life circles. Today, speaking when one has nothing to say is not only encouraged but celebrated as well. And shame on the so-called adults who have not only laid the foundation of this Rex Reed Nation of ours, but perpetuate it every single day with their actions and inaction.

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