Why is our contemporary society so selective about our own morality, based simply on the object or individual? Essentially, why is it okay for certain people to be immoral based on who they are or the medium in which the immoral behavior is being disseminated?
Why do Americans claim to despise immoral behavior in certain contexts, but seem to readily accept it from popular culture, politicians, athletes, and actors? Why does it take extreme instances of immorality (such as Harvey Weinstein) for people to finally speak out against this sort of thing?
And even then, there are instances when society is willing to “look the other way” because of who the offending individual is, what they’ve done, or the overall perception of the situation.
The Dawson’s Creek example actually did kind of blow my mind a little. During the pilot episode of the series, Pacey goes on this frustrated diatribe about why he thinks his 30-something English teacher is attracted to him as a high school student. Here’s the clip:
From my perspective (which might be relevant here), his insight is on-the-money accurate regarding why (from a more-or-less clinical point-of-view) teachers have relationships with their students. And her response is a perfect example of the cognitive distortions these teachers embrace in these situations.
To be honest, I’d never seen a single episode of Dawson’s Creek until recently. My wife mentioned that she loved the show when she was younger and it reminded her of her childhood; so I surprised her with a gift: The complete series on DVD. And, of course, she asked if we could watch it together. Evidently, she forgot about the relationship between Pacey and his high school English teacher (and I think she felt bad for having me watch it, thinking it would bother me, and although it kind of did, it was also interesting to hear Pacey’s diatribe and see the teacher’s response — perfectly illustrating the message I’ve been trying to spread about the issue itself).
OH, and in case you think I’m kidding about the way this was viewed and/or perceived as a “romance” rather than statutory rape, check out some of the online comments about this video:
So here’s my point: Society should stop being shocked by immorality in our everyday lives when we relish and enjoy it within the context of the pop culture we seem to love and cherish so much. Because as much as we’d like to think art imitates life, it doesn’t; life imitates art.
Morality is a diverse concept. However, there should be (at least) a few absolutes. And those absolutes should apply to everyone, not simply the select few who are famous; those absolutes should apply to the entertainment we perceive as acceptable, not simply accepted because it’s fiction. Just because the Dawson’s Creek romance between a teacher and a student was fictional does not mean it’s okay to perceive it as a taboo romance rather than statutory rape.
We as a collective society must be consistent with what we consider moral and immoral. Otherwise, the ever-growing chasm will continue expanding between what we allow and what we accept.
When there’s a difference between what we allow and what we accept, we walk a very tricky and slippery slope, leading to a large-scale societal confusion between perception and reality.
Certain parts of morality are not subjective.