You know, when I was a kid, Saturday morning television was the high point of my week. That sounds terrible now that I’ve said it, but it’s actually the truth. Saturday morning television has always hosted the strange visions of creators and entertainers whose ideas never really made it to mainstream appeal; that’s where science fiction used to go to die, out of sight and out of mind of the regular populace. Who would have known the appeal that both science fiction and high fantasy would accrue in our present day? Makes me almost sick to think about. You people are always miles behind, but because you’re the only runners you can see, you presume that you, as a collective, are first. Anyways, there was a lot of Babylon V, a good deal of Space: Above and Beyond, and cartoons beyond numbering, but what I liked most about them, and it was a facet of most entertainment at the time that thrilled me, is that they were all violent despite varying levels of embracing that violence. Good luck finding any more of that in entertainment fit for children nowadays, what with hovering parents having become the norm among those wealthy enough to be heard complaining about it.
Once upon a time, there weren’t big standing armies protecting you from babbling foreigners. There weren’t silos filled with nuclear weapons ready to rend the world asunder. There weren’t even police forces really. What the state had to rely upon–and really utterly–was the citizen, who filled both the role of police officer and soldier, who was raised from a relatively young age in the application of his father’s or grandfather’s arms, and when he was old enough drilled with the men in the mustering yard for the day when their little slice of the world would need them. The state didn’t want fawning adult children raised by parents too terrified to possibly discomfort their child. The nation required men that were familiar with violence from a very young age and socialized appropriately on when to apply it and apply it brutally.
Hard making a comparison between the hoplites of the city states and 20th Century television entertainment; I’ll give you that, but I would like to point out a slide, and it is only a slide that has occurred since the Second World War, away from making men out of our manpower, and popular entertainment is a facet of that. Play, in a lot of different mechanisms, is the means by which the young learn about the universe. It’s a built in bit of hardware that makes our curiosity sometimes so overwhelming. What we play, we prepare for in adulthood.
It’s dangerous to even have passive entertainment vacuous of what we’ll be required as adults. These civilizations weren’t built by love and good intentions. They were built by sweat, blood, and tears–and iron.
Talk about tangents.