T his theory seeks to explain the following: Why, in the face of constant criticism, does the content of this country’s mass media continue to evolve toward what appears to many to be increasing triviality, decreasing levels of taste, and ever-lowering moral standards? For more
than a century and a half, this trend has been deplored by a long list of respected critics-by preachers from the pulpit, professors at the podium, and politicians on the political platform. It has also been castigated by a host of citizen’s groups concerned about rising crime, looser sexual norms, more widespread use of dirty language, the erosion of family values, and the welfare of children. They have spoken out against what they see as a “vast wasteland” of kitsch-trivial newspaper stories, offensive popular music, mindless content of broadcasts, trite movie plots, the use of swear words, offensive advertising, and disgusting sites on the Internet. They are deeply saddened by the use of the technological marvels of modern communication for what they believe to be shallow, meaningless, and even harmful purposes. Yet, in spite of these protests-bitter at timesthe print, film, recording, broadcast, and computer media, critics maintain, are slowly but constantly pushing on and on to lower cultural tastes, behavioral norms, and moral standards.