Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 3:31 am | Fair 45º


Tim Durnin: Where Is Our Outrage? Where Is Our Shame?

The Super Bowl and Grammys showcase some not-so-shining moments

Several weeks ago, I was watching the start of what became the San Francisco 49ers’ last game of the season. Kristin Chenoweth was belting out one of the best versions of the national anthem of the season as cameras panned the respectful faces of players and coaches from both teams.

In what I can only describe as one of the most disrespectful responses by fans in recent memory, the crowd booed loudly whenever the face of a New York Giants player was displayed on the Jumbotron. I was appalled, and poor Chenoweth looked absolutely bewildered as she worked through the song. It was a low-class event.

I must confess a degree of satisfaction that the 49ers lost. I’m a big fan of karma. I was less satisfied the following day when I didn’t come across one commentary in print, on the radio or on television that addressed the issue. I wanted someone in sports to take the San Francisco fans to task and express some outrage.

The Super Bowl provided yet another opportunity for my intolerance to be tested as M.I.A. gestured to an enraptured world. Her act of — was it defiance? — can now be called the most widely seen obscene gesture in the history of live television. There were murmurs after the game and a few more in the days that followed, but in the end M.I.A. will ultimately benefit from the move as her predecessor Janet Jackson did before.

I am coming, slowly and reluctantly, to the realization that that is the world we live in. There is no more shame. There is no more outrage, at least not any that has a life span longer than the length of the average sitcom. That is why Chris Brown can accept his Grammy with his head held high, secure in the understanding that he was right with the world. Brown’s first tweet after the win, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate **** OFF!” I should also note the academy rewarded Brown with two live performances at the show.

There is, in that, a tacit acceptance of Brown’s behavior that saddens me. In response to some tweets expressing disappointment with Brown’s award, the disturbing theme of some teenage girls’ tweets can be summed up in this one, “I don’t know why Rihanna complained. Chris Brown could beat me anytime he wanted to.”

The 2012 Grammys were the poster child for this new paradigm as Nicki Minaj came to the ceremony complete with a “pope” in tow and then managed to insult almost the entire building and television audience with her performance of “Roman Holiday.” Again, the end result will most certainly be notoriety, not contempt.

What is most challenging for me is the delicate balance between tolerance and reasonable societal boundaries. I do not want to be the one standing on the street corner yelling, “Repent!” I also have no interest in righteously advancing my own morality. But aren’t there some things we should be able to agree on? Shouldn’t some actions result in real and definite consequences regardless of your station in life?

Our culture is becoming the child raised with no boundaries, the child who hits his mother, the terror at the birthday party, the child no one wants to invite but does so out of pity. Apparently we are still in that cute phase, the terrible twos. But those reckless, unbounded 2-year-olds grow up, and the result usually isn’t very pretty.

As a culture we will, at some point, stop and ask, “Is it too late?” The answer to that question is always yes. I believe that is why this new righteous, unfeeling, often racist conservative movement is gaining ground. You may not like their standards, but at least they have some.

We do thrive as individuals and as a culture in an environment of respect for reasonable boundaries. Maybe it’s time to start building fences.

— Tim Durnin is a father and husband. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for comments, discussion, criticism, suggestions and story ideas.

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