No, it's highly, uh, "evitable" actually. It's not coincidental that Lewis purports to be musing about success in the mainstream pop culture, while pairing that last word up with -- what else? -- "war". And the reason "liberals" appear to keep "winning" this "culture war" is actually because you guys are the only ones fighting it, and it's paradoxically hard to win a war on straw.
Let's start by unpacking that first paragraph, because its basic premise is suffocatingly inept. The Imus "debate" seemed to me at its very core to serve as a lame attempt to inoculate several types of people -- the spectator/viewer/listener type, who suddenly had to actually think about their entertainment choices, if only to affirm them; the pundit class, who, whether or not they knew Imus or ever appeared on his show, reflexively have to act like they know or care what's happening; and the inner party weasels who had to make whatever shuck-and-jive excuses for glad-handing Imus after one of his third-rate Archie Bunkerisms. And everyone's in on the same game, except, for once, Imus himself, who seemed genuinely blindsided by the wave of opportunistic rhetoric, again designed to inoculate the commentators from Imus' loose-cannon brand of putative race-baiting and minstrelsy.
The minstrelsy part is especially disingenuous for people to retreat from, since many, many people (including yours truly) engage in winking meta-wigga-isms all the time, without having it mean anything more than its face value, which people either find momentarily funny or they don't. I don't really care to either defend or attack Imus, and for the purpose of this argument, it's essentially irrelevant.
The point is that I think people on all sides of this can agree that most, if not all, of the pearl-clutching of this "debate" was shamelessly contrived, and as such, renders it largely moot to any genuinely meaningful discussion of issues of race. Probably the most eventful part of that whole incident is that Jon Corzine nearly got killed racing to a feel-good reconciliation meeting between Imus and the players he insulted. Rule #1 of photo-ops: don't get in a wreck on the way to the photo-op. It's never worth it.
The second issue Lewis addresses in terms of "culture" -- naturally, the Virginia Tech massacre -- is going to be a real headache for some time to come, in terms of sheer intellectual dishonesty. The incident has already provided the usual suspects with seemingly ideal fodder to trot out their usual tired-ass theories about why we're Going To Hell In A Handbasket. I actually agree that there's something unsettling about a culture that flocks to thinly-disguised snuff films for entertainment. I agree that the scope and scale of conditioned desensitization to very realistically portrayed violence is substantial.
But they are drawing the wrong conclusions from this; they seem to think that we would have fewer spree-killings if only people didn't watch so many Saw knockoffs. It doesn't occur to them that perhaps they have the wrong end of the stick here -- that the entertainment industry, first and foremost, is about making a buck, and what makes a buck is spectacle, upping the ante. And since our true cultural hang-ups are with sex and nudity first, then language, and then finally violence, it's only natural for the spectacle-minded film-maker to head for the path of least resistance. They can get away with showing someone losing an eye or getting a finger lopped off; getting a blowjob, not so much. I'm thinking this may be a more disturbing cultural indicator than the warriors are willing to cop to.
The real drawback to the cultural-nihilism argument over Cho Seung Hui, or the supposedly cow-like placidity with which his fellow students tolerantly accepted his seething psychoses (which is a completely false assumption, not that they'll cop to that either), is that it's useless. The argument has no practical utility, no idea for a solution, even if you accept it on its own terms. It's just a plaint, a whinge against an empty shell of an exploitative, celebrity-besotted culture.
The worst part about American culture is not its propensity for violence so much as its love of stupidity, of no longer even bothering with the pretense of real effort before just slapping any old piece of crap in front of millions of pairs of eyes conditioned to simply accept things as they are. If a network started a reality show tomorrow that showed nothing but random idiots sorting their sock drawers, what would happen? Somebody would watch it, sure as shit, and so you would then have to have the requisite promo campaigns, the entertainment show and magazine profiles of breakout sock-drawer "stars", etc., etc.
There's a whole industry built around this shit, and it's engineered to promote and distribute the most trivial nonsense imaginable. The only limit is not one of taste or quality, but merely what can be gotten away with, and if that means you watching Paris Hilton watching paint dry, well, there are literally thousands of people whose careers revolve around talking you into doing that very thing, just for the opportunity to sell you hemorrhoid cremes and allergy pills and oversized fuck-you-mobiles in between content segments.
This goes hand-in-hand with the political conditioning of reflexive suspicion of intelligence. John Kerry speaks French; he must be up to something. It goes on and on, obviously.
And that, to come full circle, is what Lewis and his fellow would-be culture warriors really don't seem to get. It should be a huge clue that the leading "culture warrior" is a notoriously thin-skinned blowhard who is perhaps most famous for sexually harassing employees with a loofah. There is no culture war, fellas; you guys are simply the media version of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, dressing up in your Civil War replica uniforms every couple weeks to go on down to the park and stab each other with plastic bayonets. It's not real; people are in the entertainment industry to pick your pocket, not turn your children into psychos, or (God forbid) queer.
And the reason they fail at figuring even that much out is that they are stubbornly political first, last, and always, instead of just finding something truly original and insightful and crafting something out of it. But since they're less worried about creating good art than effective propaganda, they're always going to be left stuck wondering what the deal is.