A Culture of Judgment:
Yesterday, as I was working out, I watched a fascinating short video featuring Lauren Zalaznick, a TV executive, who outlined a study that tracked attitudes against TV ratings over the last fifty years. In her presentation, she argued that television reflects who we truly are, thereby labeling her talk, ‘The Conscience of Television.’ In other words, the most watched programs reveal something of who Americans are: what they want, what they crave, what makes them feel good, what they are interested in, what they love (worship), etc.
From 2000-present, reality tv has been on the rise. American Idol, (the new) Xfactor, The Voice, The Biggest Loser, Survivor, Jersey Shore, America’s Got Talent, The Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, etc are just some of the reality TV shows that people watch. Zalaznick, in her research, shows how the rise of reality TV correlates to the present conscience of judgment in people. In other words, reality TV reveals the conscience of Americans and their desire of and for judgment. In addition to reality TV, I would add the amount of shows focusing on crime and judgment; such as the CSIs, the Law and Orders, the NCISs, the Criminal Minds, 24, Miami Vice, etc. Also, I must mention one of my all-time favorite shows, LOST, which had one of the most bizarre twisted endings somehow depicting death and the afterlife.
This whole crave for judging and judgment reveals something much more profound than what we [like] observing on TV. It reflects a part of God’s image in the life of humanity. God, who is the ultimate Judge, judges mankind and creation on the laws, basis and structures that he has instituted. He decides who is good and who is bad. In the beginning, when God created everything, including humanity, he deemed and declared it good. Shortly, thereafter, his prized creation, humanity, rebelled against him and his laws.
God, in the beginning, judged his creation, and judged it good. He then judged what man had made of his creation and structures and judged it evil. Just like on most of the reality shows, if someone is not good and cannot hack it, they get the axe; axing is what they deserve if they are not good enough. The truth is that we all deserve God’s judgment. No one is good (Rom 3:10). All have sinned and come up short from the standards and laws of God (Rom 3:23).
The great news is that although we all have not lived up to the standards and commands of God, he provided a lifeline. He provided a way for him to look at us, and (once again) deem and declare his creation good. And that way was and is through Jesus. Jesus’ is the gospel (the Good News). Jesus took upon himself the judgment we deserve so that we do not get what was coming to us (2 Cor 5:21). The Gospel reveals two particular things to us: it reveals that our situation is worst than we think it is, and that it can be better than we ever imagined.
Our situation is worst than we think it is because we, every single one of us, is under the judgment and condemnation of a holy God. Simon Cowell and his judgment is not a smidgeon of the judgment God will give and has. That is the simple reality. However, in God’s great love and mercy, he sent his Son, perfect and unblemished, to redeem and pay for our coming judgement. He ransomed us (Mark 10:45). He promises those who believe in Christ for salvation, a reconciliation between us and God, eternal life. He promises us peace, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. In addition, he promises that while we may have many troubles here in this life, the next life will be met with glorious jubilation and joy.
So, while we may crave judgment today; know that we reflect a greater reality. A reality that has the cross-hairs of God ready to judge sinful humanity who have not lived up to his standards. However, he is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish (be judged), but that all will come to the knowledge of him through Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9). In summary, while Zalaznick is right, TV reveals our conscience—it reveals so much more—it reveals the reality that judgment is real.
(the link to Zalzanick’s talk is: http://www.ted.com/talks/lauren_zalaznick.html)