I’m not gonna say that it was a “great” time in America, but there used to be a time when people were ashamed.
There used to be a time, in fact, where shame might have checked a few people, or kept them in line, kept them from making fools of themselves, doing bad or unhealthy shit.
Shame isn’t a rewarding feeling, it’s psychologically traumatic, but there have been times when I thank God that shame was in play because, fuck it, I wouldn’t have gotten my shit together otherwise.
I remember when how right after college, I had put on a good amount of weight. I was a fat shit actually and while a few friends had jokes, it wasn’t really anything I made issue of until:
- This girl I was more than crushing on grabbed a hunk of love handle and suggested that she might call me (real talk) “Chubsy-Ubsy”
- This random dude I worked with told me that the way I wore my clothes wasn’t disguising the fact that I was getting fat. And I so thought that this was exactly what my clothes were doing.
So shame has worked for me. Most people find motivation in one of three ways:
I’m in the second category. Tell me something’s wrong with me and I’ll fix it if only to prove you wrong.
However, with this new “anti-shaming” movement, a movement that suggest that all reinforcement should be positive and that no one should ever be ashamed – hence the new backlashes against “slut” shaming and “fat” or “body” shaming – a whole method of reinforcement is about to get scrapped under the loathsome and pretentious premise of “political correctness”.
The movie Whiplash got J.K. Simmons an Oscar for playing Fletcher, a teacher that thrived exclusively on negative reinforcement.
Even though there’s a semi-reconciliation at the end of the film for Fletcher and though you both see and get his point, he’s portrayed as being mostly villainous.
And what about the things you’re supposed to be ashamed of? Is being a slut of either gender now on the same moral tier as monogamy?
Is the kind of sloth that comes with unchecked eating habits or the unwillingness to exercise something to be applauded with the same enthusiasm as the Olympian Ideal?
Most absurdly, practitioners of that old-time restraint and morality, instead of being ignored, treated as quaint but antiquated relics, or even respected, are now being greeted with the kind of vitriol that once used to be flung at only the worst of the whores and the fattest of the pigs!
I mean, don’t get me wrong, central to the greater American psyche is the warped idea that Black people should somehow be ashamed for having been enslaved and not the people that enslaved us and there’s also the notion that there’s somehow the wrong kind of love out there and that if found, you should be ashamed of having found it.
Which brings me to my biggest point, I guess: what the fuck happened to love?
People that love you want you at your best. People that love you want you to control yourself. People that love you want you to be proud, not just not ashamed.
And maybe that’s the problem. Nobody loves each other anymore. We all just love ourselves.
Maybe we’ve given up on motivating people publicly because we secretly like to see them all fucked up so we can privately and quietly bask in our own inherent superiority.
That’s a shame.