The race to the degenerate bottom is not steady. On the contrary, it always accelerates; for, it is an arms race.
You can see this with any medium that depends for its survival on the attention of many minds: advertising, entertainment, journalism. All outlets of such media compete with each other for attention. The one that is the most extraordinary wins the competition. So the competition is to discover which outlet is the most abnormal, thus attractive of notice. Whatever was the most abnormal during the last round must be surpassed in the current round in order to gain notice: the most abnormal recent instance resets the bound of normality.
It is possible to be extraordinarily beautiful or good, to be sure. Virtuous cycles, too, can accelerate. And they are wonderful to behold. Therein lies the aesthetic appeal of sport, and of artistic performance.
But to be extraordinarily good is much more difficult than to be extraordinarily depraved or defective. So a race toward abnormality is almost always a race to the bottom.
This all came to me as I rode out to O’Hare Airport from central Chicago a few weeks ago, and noticed the shocking depravity and ugliness of the roadside billboards vis-à-vis the normality of the surrounding suburban neighbourhoods wherein they stood.
Because it normalizes abnormality, and accustoms the eye thereto, the depravity of the media depraves the normality of the polis. So the Overton Window moves inexorably leftward.
Mass culture is inherently sinister.