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

January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail