Join Pria Viswalingam for the new six-part documentary series, Decadence, as he considers whether we are now completely bogged down in a mire of meaningless self-indulgence, and whether we do really need iPods, plasma screen TVs, Brazilian waxes and self-navigating 4WDs to achieve happiness. He asks if family incomes have never been higher in the western world, property values are soaring, if conspicuous consumption and material wealth have never been so evident, why are we so unhappy?
In an era of Idol, Big Brother and mid-show ads on SBS, Decadence stands out as a work of substance, not cynicism. Intellectuals, academics, politicians and religious leaders weigh in on the topics of money, sex, democracy, education, family and God.
As the East races to emulate the West, Viswalingam says his arguments will become even more relevant. "The East, for all its other measures - strong communities, strong family - they're becoming like us," he says. "That's the darkness, the sadness. Even if you fix all this, China and India are coming online.
I mean, we already work the longest hours. What happened to that ideal of the 35-hour week?
"I've had arguments upon arguments with old journo friends who say, 'What are you talking about? This is a great life.' I say, 'I've got mortgages up to my eyeballs. I am working longer and harder to earn more to pay for more. How is that the Western ideal?' And I know that's only going to get more and more as we globalise. Look, this is my soapbox. I'm putting it up there as an essay and I want people to disagree.