Morality Plays Upon The Phosphor Screen

The medieval morality play was a religious exhortation tricked up into a theatrical form. Most European nations did not have television in the 1200’s ( Though apparently it was invented by the Russians in 1068 according to the late Soviet regime…) and the peasants did not understand the words of the Latin Mass. So travelling shows and church festivals used plays to entertain and instruct.

The various kings, dukes, earls, barons, and sheriffs used the axe and the rope to instruct, as well. It was not until the late 1700’s that a French doctor was able to return the compliment with a mechanical device.

But we are straying from the topic; morality played out or taught on the computer screen. It’s not just done by means of Hollywood crime dramas – sometimes it is in simpler form. Sometimes all that is required is  a crusading cartoonist or someone who likes to put memes onto Facebook. I see both of these daily – and while they do not form or reform my mind, I can see that they might do so for others.

Take the case of ” Sinfest ” – a rather well-drawn daily strip by a chap in America that has been going for over a decade. It features very stylish art and some quite novel concepts of God, the devil, supernatural beings, Time, etc. It sounds moralistic, and it is moralistic, but the longevity of it shows that there is a market for its biased view of the world. If you are a bad person it castigates you and if you are good one it praises you…but the thought eventually must arise in the mind of the viewer that the artist is putting himself forward as  the sole judge of good and bad. If his pronouncements are a little puerile they are at least redeemed by the pretty drawings.

” Least I can Do ” is also successful and enjoyable…and equally as plonking in some cases, though there is a different form of puerility evident – the writer delights in shocking the viewer if he can. At least the artist is a brilliant illustrator. Still, when the tenor of the strip gets political and snarky with it…you wonder whether the fun is worth the scolding.

If you go off and google the strips and follow them for a while you’ll probably see what I mean. In a way, they are no worse than Lil’ Abner was when Al Capp decided to beat his political drum.

The Facebook meme is the one that has me reaching for the mouse most times. I do understand that people like to score points by appearing smart and trendy, but I would be more likely to award them this opinion if the things they had to say were from their own mind, instead of being a parrot squawk of someone else’s prepared smarminess. But that would expose them to criticism of themselves, rather than of the anonymous source… Now that we have 30-day ” rest ” periods for the worst offenders, I can read the social media with more pleasure.

 

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