I was watching televison the other night, and saw a promo come on for “a very special episode” (or some such rot) of Glee, a program on Fox, dealing with bullying. It looked interesting, for the ten seconds or so it lasted, and even though my own sad memories of being in the Glee Club have prevented me from trying the show, I am glad they have tackled the subject.

Immediately following – proving once again that TV programmers really don’t pay any attention at all to what they are doing – came a promo for Gordon Ramsay’s cooking program, in which he browbeats and bullies those around him.

So there I am, faced with the sort of moral dilemma that television used to present so well back in the 1960s and early 1970s, before most of it turned to utter crap. That it was wasn’t by design doesn’t take away from the moment.

I despise bullies. I suppose that much of this comes from the fact that, until my high school years, I suffered badly at the hands of bullies, usually for no other reason than that I was a natural victim and that I was handy.

There are always those who are the natural prey for bullies, or bring out the mean streak in others. When I was in eighth-grade, I contemplated suicide for a short time.

Things got better for me in high school. That’s a sort of complicated story about the beauties of growing up in the military, and the chance to re-invent yourself (for lack of a better term) when you go to a new school. Perhaps I’ll write about that some day.

But I’ve never lost my contempt for bullies.

And yet . . .

Many is the time that I have gone on vacation, and sat in a bad rerstaurant, wishing that somehow I could have packed a version of Gordon Ramsay in my suitcase. Many is the kitchen staff I have wished for a visit from the oven demon, especially when I have gotten food that was prepared by someone for whom boiling water is akin to rocket science.

And I’m not the only one. Bullies abound in our entertainment culture. Doctor Gregory House is a bully, John Wayne often played a bully. Nick Barkley on The Big Valley was a bully.

All right, I may be the only person in the world who thinks that Nick was a bully. But he was a jerk. You have to give me that, at least.

We are alternately repulsed and fascinated by bullies when presented to us on our screens. Sometimes we cheer when they get what is coming to them, like Liberty Valance, but what when the bully is on the side of the angels?

I haven’t even tackled political bullies., but our culture has clearly reached a stage where thuggish behavior – both in politicians and the Orcs who support them – is celebrated.

I like myself a little less this week for my adoration of Gordon Ramsay, but that doesn’t mean I won’t wish he wasn’t there next time an incompetent cook prepares my meal in a restaurant. As Yul Brynner sang in The King and I, “Is a puzzlement.”

I guess I’ll have to do some more thinking on the subject.


Then again, Fox could have really gone crazy on the subject

I have this fantasy where Bill O’Reilly devotes an entire program to the subject of bullying. There’s Bizzaro World Programming at it’s finest.


Quote of the Day

Ask God’s blessing on your work, but don’t ask him to do it for you. – Flora Robson