For well over three years, I have been constantly abusing the word “humiliation”. I revel in the minor doses of fame resulting from stories of my getting into and out of pitiful situations. I didn’t know that this would happen, but it now seems as though personal humiliation is an incredible way to get attention in today’s morally-declining American society – which often equates to measures of success.
Take, for instance, the mother of all humiliations in the news recently: Miss Teen USA 2007, South Carolina – Caitlin Upton. It’s been viewed over 14 million times, and I still can’t watch the entire thing:
Ten years ago, this girl’s life would have been over. But not anymore, thanks to the Internet. Tell me, how many of you can actually recognize the winner of Miss Teen USA? I know I couldn’t, but if I saw Caitlin on the street, I’d immediately recognize her. Not only that, but she’s now had major follow-up interviews, and I can guarantee you that magazines like FHM will are trying to get her into sexy photo shoots. The landscape has changed indeed.
Next humiliation: Britney Spears’ return to the big stage in MTV’s Video Music Awards (it’s been removed from YouTube).
There are two ways which Britney could have gotten all of the attention she received:
- She knocks everyone’s socks off (not likely), or
- She is a trainwreck (very likely).
As expected, Britney bombed in flying colors, yielding more press than a good performance would ever have received. Her constant humiliation has kept her in the spotlight. For someone struggling to keep things alive, no press is bad press.
What hasn’t been removed from YouTube, however, is the defensively embarrassing video “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!” from Britney’s #1 fan, Chris Tucker. Nobody heard of this loser until this video was made. Now nearly 5 million people have watched it. In case you haven’t, here it is:
In case you didn’t know, Chris is a male, and is somehow gaining a monstrous fan base. Does anyone see a problem here?
Now let’s take a look at the lighter side of popular-culture humiliation. The Zombie Kid who Likes Turtles:
Ten years ago, 10,000 people in Portland, OR would have seen this on the evening news, said “what in the hell?”, and went to bed, all to forget about it the next day. Now, over a million people have seen Jonathon Ware — he gets recognized everywhere, t-shirts have been made with the “I Like Turtles” slogan, and there is a Washington Post Article summing up the whole experience.
For my last exhibit, my favorite humiliation of all, is “Flaming Shot Goes Terribly Wrong”:
I’ve seen this video over 50 times (more on that in the future), and laugh every time I see it. These guys are true heroes to our generation of idiots, including myself. “Flaaaaaaaaming!”
What’s the point?
My point is this. The Internet is moving towards a self-aggrandizing style of short-lived entertainment fueled by Generation Y-ers’ passion to put themselves in the spotlight at any cost. America has loved humiliation for several years, starting with the television show “COPS” and MTV’s “The Real World”, and then moving towards reality TV and shows like “Jackass”.
Your typical 30+ year old would never want to be shown on the Internet partaking in such self defeatism. They wisely cower at the sight of video cameras, and don’t want to be the center of this Internet-based attention.
Generation Y, however, is embracing that humiliation, and taking it to levels I never imagined. We are, as a young society, increasingly becoming attention-whores.
The rest of us just revel in everyone else’s humiliations because it makes us feel better about our worthless, emotionally-neglected selves, thanks to the lack of proper parenting because we decided to toss a generation of children in extended day care rather than raise them like normal humans just so that everyone could afford a 3,000 square foot house and country club membership.