American culture seems to be turning into an addiction theme park. In addition to the usual books, plays and songs about addiction, television reality shows are flooding the airwaves with shows about people who just can't seem to stop doing self-destructive things. Programs featuring hoarders, rehab, cartels, intervention, halfway houses, addicted celebrities, binge eating and excessive pet adoptions are now strewn through every cable line-up like used works in a rust-belt drug den. But one of the most remarkable features of the addiction media boom is its banality.
Unlike the geniuses and rockers, the delinquents and beats, bad boys and fast girls of old, most of the addicts we're seeing these days are deglamorized: witless and spotty, stripped of distinguishing verbal and sartorial style, they don't start out high enough to work up any momentum on the way down. Why is that? What's going on? Read More