Bread and Circuses

I’ve been party recently to a discussion touching on politics and public taste and the media. The title of the email thread is “Bread and Circuses,” after a famous declaration by the Roman poet Juvenal that “the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things — bread and circuses” (source). What Juvenal lamented, an implication of the discussion goes, politicians and media moguls today revel in, with their weapons of mass distraction and their aircraft carrier landings and their American Idols and their bizarrely-prioritized newscasts.

Keep the people fed and entertained and they won’t question authority.

I think the discussion has brought out some valid points, but I won’t concede that there’s any sort of vast media/political conspiracy to keep the people down by distractions so that they’ll

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