FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pavlov’s America

by RALPH NADER

CBS’s new reality show is called “Greatest American Dog,” with pet expert-zoologist Jarod Miller as the host. Twelve “dog-and-human teams are vying for the grand prize of $250,000. These teams are in intense training “by running, jumping, fetching and just looking adorable,” reports the Washington Post.

The show’s executive producer, R.J. Cutler requires the teams to all live together during the weekly competition at a “canine academy” where they will be carefully observed acting and interacting.

There is 5 year old Andrew, a Maltese, whose owner Laurie is a dog day-care owner in Stafford, Virginia. Then there is 1 year old Beacon, a miniature Schnauzer owned by a Los Angeles fashion designer. Beacon will have to get along with Kenji, also a 1 year old, a giant Schnauzer owned by Elan, described as an aspiring dog-salon owner in Portland, Oregon. Other dogs include a Pomeranian, an English bulldog, a Border Collie, a Boxer and a Boston Terrier named Ezzie whose owner, Michael, is an aspiring comic in Los Angeles.

“Although the dogs are beautiful, this is not a beauty contest,” Cutler cautions, adding that “the dog-owner relationship is the central part of the show.”

Non-dog owners, especially cat-lovers, may be snickering at the fastidious details and the presumed smarts of dogs. But behind this contest are standards for judging these dogs, beyond aerial tricks and obedience commands. The Post writes that “Each episode tests a specific quality, such as loyalty, courage or intelligence, and is developed to show how humans and animals cooperate.”

Ah, would that the television networks create reality shows highlighting the courage and intelligence of humans working to improve our society at all levels.

What about “Greatest Community Organizer” or “Greatest Consumer” which would include astute non-consumption or “Greatest Taxpayer” in terms of demanding and receiving efficient government services, or “Smartest Voter.” Or, what about “Greatest Mother, Father, Mother-in-Law and Father-in-Law, Grandmother and Grandparent,” “Greatest Storyteller, Hitch-Hiker, Babysitter, Gardener, Youth-Hobby-Instructor, Temper-Tantrum-Reducer, Neighborhood Myth-Buster, Complainer, Injustice Fighter,” or just plain “Greatest Neighbor?”

“Bah,” say the reality-show promoters. These “greatest” are not low enough on the sensuality ladder. Reality shows have to evoke, greed, danger, ego, adventure, sex, manipulation and self-absorption. Raw cravings!

Some of you may remember that Hollywood had a formula for popular films. Celebrities, romances of the rich and powerful, extravaganzas or thrillers, but above all don’t show the common folk for they live in Dullsville.

But, then after World War II, different films began to come to the screens. Out of war-torn Italy came “The Bicycle Thief” and “Bitter Rice” about ordinary people negotiating the travails of life. Presto, the movie screens became wider in more ways than one and a larger panorama of life entered the cinemas.

The point about these possible reality shows is that they help recognize or reinforce standards in a fast-changing, evolving, devolving society which blurs, depreciates, and jettisons standards that form the connectedness and meaning of inter-generational life lived on small-scales in small communities or neighborhoods.

Sure, such shows would require breakthrough imaginations by their creators. Knee-jerk prejudgments would not be given the benefit of the doubt.

Whole worlds of daily life would open up for audiences accustomed to being treated as Pavlovian specimens—who were, after all, dogs.

Ralph Nader is running for president as an independent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Minute Musings: On Why the United States Should Launch a Tomahawk Strike on Puerto Rico
Tom Clifford
The Return of “Mein Kampf” … in Japan
Todd Larsen
Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank!
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Brexit: Britain’s Opening to China?
John Hutchison
Everything Old is New Again: a Brief Retrospectus on Korea and the Cold War
Michael Brenner
The Ghost in the Dream Machine
Yves Engler
The Military Occupation of Haiti
Christopher Brauchli
Guardians of Lies
James Preece
How Labour Can Win the Snap Elections
Cesar Chelala
Preventing Disabilities in the Elderly
Sam Gordon
From We Shall Overcome to Where Have all the Flowers Gone?
Charles Thomson
It’s Still Not Too Late to Deserve Your CBE, Chris Ofili
Louis Proyect
Documentaries That Punch
Charles R. Larson
Review: Vivek Shanbhag’s “Ghachar Ghochar”
David Yearsley
Raiding the Tomb of Lubitsch
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail