Wednesday, March 24, 2010

chabuduo is not good enough

dreamy orchids promote the pondering of ponderable thoughts.
on a lazy sunday afternoon, we watched some crap t.v. shows (as one does) where four "known" (kendt) danes with nothing visibly in common each take turns making dinner at their house and entertaining the other three. then, they rate one another and one of them "wins" 10,000 kroner for their favorite charity. and it struck me, as they gave one another ratings of 8 and 9 for what appeared to be quite ordinary food that likely at most deserved a 5 or 6 and referred to one another as "icons" in their fields, when none of them are even remotely approaching icon status, that reality television is wrecking the language(s) (all of them). it's evident in the talent shows as well, where the judges tell everyone they're brilliant and the best they've seen or heard, when they most decidedly were not and that was evident for all to see and hear.

what is this culture of politeness that's driving this? are we really so afraid to call a spade a spade? and what does it do to words like "icon" that they are applied to only marginally famous, deeply insecure people who can't cook or set a proper table? it strips them of meaning is what it does.

yesterday, i learned about a chinese word - chabuduo - which means "almost there" or "good enough." since i had a long drive, i began to speculate as to whether the world is becoming a place where everything is "good enough," or chabuduo, whether it really is or not. i may be thinking of chabuduo in the wrong sense here, as what's underneath the chinese conception of it is a constant search for optimization - making things easier, cheaper and getting more money for them. but maybe i haven't misunderstood, because isn't reality t.v. chabuduo as well? it's definitely easier than making a proper television show, it surely costs less as you can get loads of fame-hungry suckers to participate and you don't have to pay them and thus the production company makes more money on it.

but what are the implications if everyone chooses the easy route, or hides their mistakes, slaps on a coat of paint to cover things up, or gives mediocre efforts top marks? a superficialization (i just made that word up) of culture and a poverty of language is what it seems to be giving us. we don't have any way to express things that are truly brilliant or iconic anymore now that everything is those things, even the things that are chabuduo.

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dear blogger, please finish your tweaking of the photo uploader, it's not working at the moment and i hate having to post using html from flickr. sigh.


Liz Fulcher, The Fragrant Muse said...

Agreed Agreed Agreed. And it scares the bejezuz out of me that more folks don't see it.

Watching some inane sitcom last week the main character said "Her and I just got back from a vacation". I wanted to break the TV.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for spelling out all the reasons why I stopped watching TV. A true waist of time and since time is the only commodity we truly have I rather use it differently.

Like the word chabuduo though.

See you!!!!

arlee said...

Unfortunately, the lowest common denominator for most of the world is mediocrity......
i too like that word/phrase. Could use it everyday :}

d smith kaich jones said...

Really liked this post, but I think it's unfair to blame reality tv, sucky & horrible though it may be. You ask "What is this culture of politeness that's driving this?", and I have to laugh, sitting here in the middle of a world that is all about political correctness. From whence it all comes. We send kids to schools that are not allowed to fail them, we sue doctors for telling us we are fat, we frown at keeping scores at children's basketball games. WE encourage mediocrity. It is our fault.

(My personal most annoying overused word is art. Dear God. Everything is called art nowadays. Very little is.)

:) Debi

mrs mediocrity said...

I so agree, this is actually one of my pet peeves. Everything seems to be "dumbing down" these days, especially the language. We had a president that said nucular instead of nuclear for eight years, for crying out loud!
And the culture of mom, who loves children more than anything, and Christmas only second to that, had to leave her job as a cafeteria monitor because they told her she wasn't allowed to say Merry Christmas to the children. She would only be allowed to say Happy Holidays. These were five year olds!
There are times when good enough is okay, and times when it just plain isn't!

Sandra said...

I despise the overuse and misuse of the word courage. It would seem every schmuck on the planet who admitted to anything is courageous.

Lisa-Marie said...

We hae that programme in the Uk. It is the 'Come Dine with Me' that I often speak of. There is no such politeness in the UK version, I can assure you.

Correct use of language is help really highly here, but it's slipping in many places!

Jennifer A. said...

I agree that the world is scared of calling a spade a spade.

stephanie said...

This post just made my morning. I remember a time (not all that long ago) when I was a kid and if I messed up, I knew it. If I didn't do something right or well, I knew it. I was allowed to fail. I was allowed to know that I wasn't the best at everything. I understood that my best at something might not be enough.

I watch people of my generation walking around thinking that they are the best at everything and don't you dare try to tell them they are not. Everyone is told they are unique and special and amazing and perfect and the best. It's horse crap. Nobody is that good. I fully believe in encouragement and praise when it's due. But giving the kids that don't win the soccer game trophies is just encouraging the thinking pattern that everybody wins always.

And all this stuff leads to words and meanings of words becoming useless. Everyone is a winner, so what do you call the person that actually wins? Now this is all I'm going to think about for the rest of the day...

heidikins said...

The downward spiral towards mediocrity is going to be the demise of the world, I fear.

Excellent post, I will be chewing on these thoughts for quite a while.


will said...

This got me thinking of a long ago conversation I had with a friend. He was a Chicago architect who had been part of the team that designed the Sears Tower and the Hancock Building.

We were discussing the sameness of modern cars... how the body shapes were now more or less the same in design.

He made this point: when something is new - the first airplanes, cars, radios, recorded music, television sets, television programs - all had more diversity than what they would have in later years.

His point - all things begin with one person's idea. Then there’s innovation, experimentation, success and failure and as time goes by extremes are smoothed out and what works is usually in a common theme or direction. Hence, today, most jet liners look about the same, ditto cars and uniformity dictates refinement of common features and not the inclusion of unusual or odd.

We expanded this conversation to include societies. As populations increase, there’s more pressure to conform, to not live in extreme non-linear ways. Small “d” democracy
more or less means a massive amount of people, with more uniformity than in the historical past. What we are seeing is the lost of older style individualism, uniqueness that is not significantly different and we are witnessing the trend of calling things iconic or special when they are only simply slightly different from the norm.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

It began for me with my sons grade school...children were being awarded (big trophies) for the simplest accomplishments, so much so I wondered how they would ever handle real on TV, everyday grownups sing, dance in a mediocre way and here come the awards! The bar has been lowered...expectations are low and awards high!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Stephanie. Failing is important. You then know that you have to improve. You learn something. You work for something higher.

Yes, TV is for the masses. Public TV and radio then aspire to give us more, but it's like "How can I go over their heads and make them yearn for my knowledge?"

Lovely orchid. You do have a nice way with the camera. (truth)

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you (surprise!). This hits home like you wouldn't believe. Back in the 90's I wrote an article for a newspaper about the dumbing down of America. I wrote it out of nothing but sheer frustration. Needless to say, the frustration remains.

Thank you for writing this, it's brilliant.

Char said... scares me

Anonymous said...

Bill's a smartypants.

Want some chabudo: enter Blogville and peruse the writings of the "big" bloggers. Maybe we can't recognize the mediocre because we ourselves are so decidedly so?

Not you, though, my dear. Not you.

julochka said...

bill sent a GREAT article that explains the why of this much better than my initial musings...

* said...

You speak such truth in this post, I don't know where to begin.

"Poverty of language" -- absolutely. I was thinking the other day of all the "famous" people who really are just famous via Reality TV or for 1 hit song for 15 minutes. How is that really "famous" or has the term "famous" warped in modern day to refer to something else completely?

Glad to have found your blog. Your authenticity is refreshing.