It started when I was watching Eastenders (a popular soap opera in the UK). The characters (too strong a word, but I can't think of another) in it do and say out-of-character things for silly reasons. Just think about this for a second: your 10 year old son has recently moved back to England from abroad after his mother (your ex-wife) and step father were killed. He's living with his older brother (who is about your age), whom you really dislike. Do you:
- Put your dislike of the older brother to the back of your mind, put your son first and do your best to help him through his grief and being in England, or
- Threaten the older brother, demand your son lives with you regardless, generally swagger about talking about how important family is but not match what you say with actions, and then wonder when your son runs away (in other words behave as normal)?
So, I started asking out loud 'Why?'. Which then became 'Why are these people so stupid?'
Then I started to worry (no, not because I was talking to the TV) because behind a scene in a soap like Eastenders, are lots of people - the actors, the writers, the directors, the producers, not to mention the viewers, the critics ... etc. All these people have 'bought into' the stories and 'characters'. They validate the story and characters. And presumably, think it's okay ('cos if it wasn't there would either be changes or a drop in ratings).
It suggests to me, that the people involved in Eastenders (both viewers and behind the scenes) behave or witness this kind of behaviour. It suggests that doing what you feel and want to is the norm. It suggests that managing your feelings and wants and being able to discipline yourself to do the right thing is not. It suggests that as long as you say the right things but don't actually do the right things, that what you are doing is okay.
And now, go and read this post from the Anchoress, who explains why this type of thinking is disturbing better than I ever could.