Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

[I wrote this back in March and never got around to posting it.]

This morning on the news I saw a profile piece of a woman who was apparently a famous singer in the 60’s. The piece covered her life from her rise to stardom in her late teens; through an early marriage which she abandoned a few years later, rocky relationships with male singers, and drug addictions; and ended triumphantly with her rebuilt career and latest album release.

What struck me was that her biography matched so well with the yeshivish caricature of non-frum life as ruled by passions and inevitably hedonistic.

I wonder if modern celebrity culture could be reinforcing those stereotypes. In many science fiction stories characters worry about aliens judging humanity based on what we broadcast. Obviously, the aliens would get an extremely distorted view of human culture if their only exposure was radio and TV broadcasts. Yeshivish society, which goes out of its way to isolate itself from the rest of the world, knows of the world only through cultural osmosis. Big stories usually manage to leak through, perhaps from someone who listens to the news on the radio. The stories get passed around, and the result is a distorted version of the news show’s 10-second blurb caricaturing the latest celebrity scandal. These stories are repeated as proof that the outside world is morally corrupt.

I don’t have any evidence that this actually happens aside from some limited personal experience, but its an interesting thought.


  1. "I wonder if modern celebrity culture could be reinforcing those stereotypes."

    I wonder if modern reality could be reinforcing those stereotypes.

  2. when i was a teen, the only thing i knew about life out there was from these movie caricatures... and yet I felt so boxed in and so repressed that I wanted it anyway despite all.

  3. That's an interesting hypothesis. I wonder if this could apply to other groups as well such as extremist Christian groups?