08/28/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance: An Entire Future, Lost in "Reality"

I was standing in line at the bank the other day, mindlessly tapping my foot to the music on the PA system, when I suddenly realized what I was listening to: Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime."

Never mind the irony of David Byrne singing "Where is my large automobile?" at this particular moment in economic time -- let's talk about cognitive dissonance.

It was just the fact of this band, this song, this setting. Perhaps I'm showing my age -- oh hell, I know I'm showing my age -- but I can remember when that song and that band were considered so far outside the mainstream that they weren't even played on the radio, let alone as background music at a suburban Citibank branch.

Then, just as the insanity over Michael Jackson was dying down (yes, "Thriller" was quite an album; no, he was not the greatest artist who ever lived and, by any reasonable standard, would barely crack the top 500), Walter Cronkite died. And it started all over again -- except with a more level-headed sense of awe.

Then I heard Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the Daily Kos website, on Bill Maher's show, saying that he was too young to remember when Cronkite did the news -- but offering the wholly logical observation that, because of fragmentation of media, no one would ever bestride the media like a colossus the way Cronkite did. Which made me think: I wonder whether Walter Cronkite ever heard of Perez Hilton?

Finally, I heard a radio commercial soliciting moms to bring their kids to a cattle-call audition for commercials and TV shows. "Having your child on TV -- how amazing would that be?" the female announcer chirped.

Which made me think of the pilot I'd just watched for a new reality show, Addicted to Beauty (Aug. 4 on the Oxygen channel), a program which could make you weep for humanity -- it's that revolting.

And then I thought, well, how amazing must the parents of the idiots on this show think it is that their children are on TV, revealing to the world just how low the bar is now set for what passes as televised entertainment?

Addicted to Beauty is about a new venture in La Jolla, Calif.: an actual plastic surgeon has joined forces with the owner of a beauty spa, to offer both spa treatments and medical cosmetic surgery procedures -- everything from Botox to breast implants and face lifts.

How repulsive is this show?

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