| up a level
from the melee-of-revealing dept.
When I tuned in to NBC's new game show, "Weakest Link," my only thought was to indulge my taste for domineering women. And indeed, although what I'd read in the paper about host Anne Robinson sounded intriguing enough, she exceeded by far my fondest wishes. But that wasn't all I found.
If somehow you hadn't heard, "Weakest Link" (originally a hit on British television) pits eight contestants against one another to win a jackpot by answering trivia questions. What makes it unique is that each round concludes with the contestants voting to remove one of their company for the rest of the game, the one member considered to be the "Weakest Link." Not only that, but the votes are displayed publicly, and the ostracized member has to listen as the former teammates explain in humiliating detail why they voted against him or her, before exiting along the "walk of shame." As if that weren't enough, Anne Robinson piles on insults against everyone in sight, brutally -- but with style. Finally, the losers are filmed venting their rage backstage in order to demonstrate that there is no good sportsmanship going on here.
Appalling. Sick. But very, very funny.
What occurred to me watching this spectacle, though, is that this is Social Darwinism stripped down to its bare essentials. We've been seeing it in shows like "Survivor" for a while now, but by streamlining and exaggerating the Darwinist core, "Weakest Link" impacts us with a startling directness.
As I've often written before, I'm no fan of Social Darwinism, whether I see it in the Republican Party, laissez-fair economics, or Thelema. In a way, I see it as the fundamental error in the way our world is going. So this is why I go to great lengths to advocate that Thelemites distance themselves from Social Darwinism, even though a significant portion of Crowley's writings can be read as supporting the idea.
What "Weakest Link" shows us in high relief is exactly what is wrong with holding "Survival of the Fittest" as the central principle of society. We laugh (well, I laughed) at Anne Robinson's put-downs, but we remember the humiliation of the losers. And we realize that we don't want to live our lives that way.
A homeopathic remedy works to correct an imbalance in the body by slightly increasing that imbalance, so that the body's immune systems kick in. Similarly, I see "Weakest Link" as having the potential to wean us away from the cruel competitiveness of our society by amplifying that competitiveness and really rubbing our noses in it. Also, I think that it effectively illustrates the ugliness of emphasizing "on the low men trample" (as a principle of external relations) before "Love is the Law."
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