anne_mikolay_120Why is it that our society so freely embraces the crass and the tasteless? I just don't get it.

At a local book signing event in Brick, an estimated 700 fans awaited the arrival of new author Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of Jersey Shore fame. (Don't know who Snooki is? Never watched MTV's Jersey Shore program? You're not missing much!) Ms. Polizzi happily signed copies of her first work of fiction, “A Shore Thing,” written with the assistance of writer Valerie Frankel (one wonders how much assistance). This phenomenon, along with a recent internet video of Snooki conducting a questionable fashion makeover on an eleven year old girl, begs the question: what the heck is wrong with us? Why are our values so twisted?

Don't get me wrong. I encourage anyone with a story to tell to do so; kudos to Snooki for writing her book (I have even grown to like the name “Snooki,” a cute, perky moniker for a puppy). As a parent, however, I am not pleased with the content of the Shore program, nor am I pleased that someone representing the lifestyle depicted therein has emerged a teen idol. What is it about Snooki and her cohorts that attracts viewers? Is it the dark hair? The thick eye makeup? The wild nights? The limited, epithet-ridden vocabulary? I don't understand.

Nor do I understand Ricky Gervais' behavior at the recent Golden Globes ceremony. What was his motivation for his offensive humor? He burned his bridges big time! Why on earth would any performer in his right mind cavalierly trash a perfect opportunity to enhance his career? Gervais did more than insult; he crossed the line on several occasions. Perhaps Gervais mistook the Golden Globes for a celebrity roast? Perhaps his ego overwhelmed his sense of decorum? Somebody should have warned him that even the most charming British accent will not render distasteful humor acceptable. While there are those who enjoyed Gervais' hosting duties during the televised ceremony, I agree wholeheartedly with Robert Downey, Jr.'s very apropos assessment of Gervais' performance as “hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones.”

I just don't get it. Why does America embrace the crass and the tasteless?