We are Rome

I think I watch too much television. You can learn a lot about a culture by the way it chooses to entertain itself though. I've always thought of the ancient Roman Empire as a bunch of blood thirsty primitives. We all learned in school about the bloody spectacle of gladiators doing battle and unfortunates who got on the wrong side of the law being tossed to various wild animals all for the entertainment of the people. Certainly we modern civilised folk, with a greater appreciation for the value of a human life, have moved beyond that kind of madness. Not.

Spike TV, which bills its self as the first network for men, runs a lot of adds for shows where grown men beat up on each other. The Ultimate Fighter, TNA: iMPACT!, and UFC Unleashed are just three of their shows. Then there's the regular wrestling stuff that I stopped watching when I was about 12. The main selling point of Spike TV's shows seems to be the bloody brutality of it all. All of the ads for these shows flash lots of blood and bruises and body blows.

All of this leads me to conclude that we are as blood thirsty as the Romans ever were. I've come to the conclusion that this blood lust comes not from primitiveness but from privilege. When you've got enough food to eat, a comfortable place to lay your head at night, and feel fairly safe from enemy attack you tend to get bored. We get fat and soft and forget what it was like carve out a living for ourselves. So we turn to watching others beat each other up for a little bit of excitement in our otherwise tame lives.

This situation didn't end too well for Rome. It probably won't end well for us either.


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