The End of All Things


They say that our society has gotten more tolerant of indecency in recent years, and I tend to agree. Please allow me to share several hundred examples.

The greatest proof of our failure as a society is that we tolerate the existence of TV commercials about cartoon bears wiping their butts. Any future civilization looking back on ours will see these commercials and think, “Oh, this must have been right before society collapsed entirely.” Modern archeologists show what ancient Greece and Rome were like at the end by pointing out sculptures and engravings of decadent orgies; future archeologists will see our animated butt-wiping bears as our low-water mark.

I understand the problems faced by Charmin and the other toilet paper manufacturers. Their product is used to remove feces residue from the skin surrounding our anuses. They call it “bathroom tissue,” and it does have other uses. But the main thing — its raison d’etre — is for wiping our rear ends after we defecate. That is a difficult thing to advertise.

But I have good news, Charmin. You don’t HAVE to advertise it! It is not mandatory that commercials for hygiene products graphically spell out what they are for! That is why we have euphemisms and symbols.

For example, we know that the liquid being absorbed by Pampers won’t actually be a cheerful blue color, as depicted in the commercials. Pampers is not trying to suggest that this particular brand of diaper is not only absorbent but will also change the color of your baby’s urine (although that would be neat). By the same token, Charmin doesn’t need to tell us what toilet paper is for. Anyone who has a butt knows what toilet paper is for, and anyone who doesn’t already use it regularly won’t be persuaded to start just because they’ve seen it demonstrated by cartoon forest animals.

Surely there are few people, if any, who are not at least slightly repulsed by these commercials. So why do we allow them to exist? Why have we, as a society, not risen up and rejected them? “That will be quite enough, Charmin!” is what we ought to be saying. “We will not permit you to continue producing commercials along these lines! If necessary, we will physically prevent you from making them.” Yet instead we continue to turn a blind eye, because we lack the collective will as a society to stamp out terrible things that everyone hates.

Another bad omen for mankind’s future: signs that say “NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE.” The fact that this even has to be spelled out is a symptom of our civilization’s rapid decay. OF COURSE you can’t come into this store barefoot or topless. It’s a store and you are not dressed. Why would you think you COULD go into a place of business bare-chested? Is this place of business located on or immediately next to a beach? Are you a filthy Appalachian child? Are you a kidnapping victim who has just fled your abductor? No? Then you wear shoes and a shirt when you enter a public emporium to engage in commerce. It’s just what people do.

Yet apparently this is not obvious to all people, or else those signs wouldn’t be necessary. You don’t see signs that read “PLEASE DO NOT VOMIT ON MERCHANDISE” or “NO UNMUZZLED PET BEARS ALLOWED,” because it would never occur to most people to violate those social norms. The number of people who need to be reminded to clothe themselves before going shopping is evidently great enough to warrant specific injunctions. How do we permit such people to live among us? Every person who doesn’t feel humiliation at the very idea of entering a store without a shirt on is a person whom we, as a society, have failed to educate. Somehow this very basic value — the value of wearing clothes when you go out in public — has not been instilled in such persons.

I believe future generations will also judge us harshly when they learn that we spent a combined total of nearly $200 million to make not one but two “Ghost Rider” movies. These featured Nicolas Cage as a cursed superhero who rides a motorcycle while his head is on fire. The first expensive “Ghost Rider” movie was bad, and everyone figured they wouldn’t make a sequel. But then they made an expensive sequel anyway, and it was also bad. They made the same expensive bad movie twice.

Future historians will wonder: Were there no worthier works of art or entertainment to spend all that time and money on? Were there no poor among us, no starving people, no diseases left to be cured? I mean, one expensive bad movie, sure. It happens. An expensive bad movie followed by the same expensive bad movie again? That’s just reckless. And we, the human race, allowed it. The people responsible for it walk freely among us, uncondemned. What does that say about us? It says we are too permissive. As a society, we’d better get our butts in gear before we’re wiped out altogether.