The Death Of Embarrassment?
Christine Rosen sounds a little uptight:
Today, what used to cause embarrassment now elicits little more than a collective shrug. In our eagerness to broadcast our authentic experiences and have our individuality endorsed, we reject embarrassment as if it were some fusty trapping of a bygone age. But we haven't eliminated embarrassment; we have only upped the ante. "Your slip is showing" used to be the most embarrassing sartorial faux pas a lady could commit. Now we regularly witness "nip slip" from female celebrities whose shirts mysteriously migrate south during public appearances - or during Super Bowl halftime shows. As the boundary between public and private has dissolved, so too has our ability to distinguish between embarrassing and appropriate public behavior. The result is a society often bewildered by attempts to impose any standards at all.
If embarrassment is over, why is The Office such a huge hit? Why has the last decade seen a surge in embarrassment humor? The objects of embarrassment may have shifted, and no doubt the level of embarrassment in a far looser, less fastidious society has, as Rosen argues, sunk. But the beast with red cheeks will always blush. And living in a society terrified of the faux pas is a pain in the ass.