The American populace, for all intents and purposes, is dead.
It still shows some signs of life, it still defecates (on, it seems, everything), it still reproduces (available on DVD with a variety of group dynamics) and continues to eat (now “organic” victuals as opposed to before when we ate “inorganic” stuff?). But the populace no longer reacts to stimuli. Even mold knows when to start duplicating itself when its environment suits it, but when it comes to us it seems that we do what we’re told. Today, the world and country screams out, only to find erratic and apathetic listeners.
People go home after work or class to zone out in front of tv to get their fix of the Real World X: San Antonio and urgent updates on the developing situation in The O.C. The progressives who reject today’s fakeness and materialism proudly tune into the real O.C: Laguna Beach.
It has gotten to the point that words such as genocide, poverty and war are things that we learn about in the $200 books that we have to buy to be educated. You might recall such events from those 30-second video montages on the news and Jeopardy category headings, sometimes a good daily double, but you really can never tell what Trebek has in store, he’s a tricky ol’ S.O.B.
One could argue that things like the women’s suffrage movement, the battle against fascism and the civil rights movement were only successful in the past because there were simply fewer or no channels to get lost in on T.V.
By no means do I mean to undercut the invaluable contributions of great people as Violeta Chamorro, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, but why don’t these people exist today? Nowadays people have the luxury of being able to find refuge in 200-plus channels if they feel threatened by what the “news” confronts them with.
Millions die. We learn about it by paying $7 and going to a movie.
There is no greater threat today than maintaining ourselves in this comatose vegetative state, numbing ourselves with our own soma. We seem to think that by distancing ourselves from a problem, it simply just disappears. Either by just listening to CNN about how bad a bomb was, or thinking that Washington D.C. is that place where C-SPAN takes place, the American populace has constructed an almost impenetrable bubble around itself where terrorism is just a memory. Even 9/11 has been reduced to just a bumper sticker and a modern-day buzzword.
It seems to be that, in a world full of South Beach diets and ever-shrinking iPods, there is no room for ugliness.
My advice: follow Anthony Keidis’s wise words, and “throw away your television.” Turn off everything in your house/apt./hole in Hecht and prick your finger with a pin. If it hurts, congratulations, you’re still alive. Now do something with it.
Spread the word, being dead sucks.
Federico Cuadra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.