What a strange, schizophrenic culture we have.
For 233 years the old countries have looked down their noses at the brash Americans as we careened down the super-highway of “More, Bigger, Better”. Forever quick with self satisfied put-downs regarding our default mode of optimism and nose to the grindstone work ethic, they were sure in the knowledge that their ways of jaded cynicism and world weariness are the true human nature. Observing this week the ridiculous celebrity worship of a deceased pedophile fighting for media dominance with the wreaked life of a once ordinary man who grew weary of life in the bubble and sabotaged a promising political career, I am beginning to think that maybe the old European cynics who endlessly pontificate on our lack of culture may have had it right all along.
In our endless and increasing fascination with the lowbrow, with American Idol, People Magazine, with the proliferation of “reality” shows celebrating not the higher virtues but the vices of greed, envy, ambition, and at the same time casually dismissing our responsibilities as citizens to stay reasonably informed, to vote knowledgeably, to participate rather than merely observe, I get the feeling that a majority, or close to it, have come to see the American experiment in republican self governance as some sort of punch line to an old joke told by an older comic. Funny and relevant once but now hopelessly out of fashion with the cool kids and dismissed on these grounds alone without regard that the old joke may impart a bit of wisdom if reflected upon.
We are becoming a nation of idiots with no historical appreciation of what came before us and with no seeming care that our current actions might have less than ideal consequences for future generations. All that seems to matter is the now, the hip, what are people watching, what are they listening to. Is it good? Is it beautiful? Does it impart knowledge? Increase wisdom? Who cares as long as it keeps our minds numb and our mouths moving. “Did you catch SteveO on “Dancing With The Stars” last night? My how far he’s come since shoving matchbox cars up his ass on camera while in a drug induced psychotic state”.
If the people wish for their minds to become ever more dulled via our mass media, and desire an all encompassing federal government to provide for every need that we used to take care of for ourselves then that is what we shall surely have. It is a democracy after all. Like a father when regarding a grown child who through laziness or indifference makes a life for them self far below their potential however, I always expected a bit more.
H/T to Gerard for the links.