Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Goodbye, Less-Than-Zeros

Well, that was quite a decade.

I hold a lot of unpopular opinions. I don't think any of the Star Wars films are good. I think Hip Hop has been boring since Kool Moe Dee's "Go See The Doctor" fell off the charts. I think "The Hero's Journey" is a pointless structural form. I've never watched "American Idol." I think greed is bad.

That doesn't mean we can't all get along. Perhaps we can agree that this decade didn't go well, overall.

Now, we might disagree on the reasons. I mean, I might blame things on unending and ineffective war, de-emphasis of education as a national value, a refusal to regulate or prosecute corporations and an expansion of business interests into war profiteering, the dismantling of both human rights and personal freedoms, an increased sense of entitlement and infantilism in youth culture and the collapse of reasoned argument.

You might blame other things.

Still, we can agree things haven't been exactly perfect, right? That the false assurances given loudly over those with sensible reservations, maybe, haven't proven true and that failure has had serious consequences and costs?

I mean, there weren't any Weapons of Mass Destruction found. The market didn't self-correct. Cutting the top layer of taxes never trickled down. Letting big pharma advertise and teaching to the test left an overmedicated generation that can't pay attention, can't think clearly, doesn't know when the Civil War happened, and thinks "loose" means to not win. People are telling me Reagan was great, I should steal music and movies, sell harder, cut corners wherever possible. They are telling me various places should be turned into glass parking lots and that we're number one. That health insurance is communism, that religion adds up to more than a fantasy, that an argument for denying people equal rights is right here, in this book.

I disagree.

I mean, even Karl Rove's wife has figured it out. Lies aren't likely to turn into anything good. There's a limit.

At the same time, other people seemingly on another side of the spectrum are telling me that wishing will make it so. There's this law of attraction, and the universe is a hologram, and there are no coincidences, and we make our own reality, OMMMMMM, and fixing ourselves spiritually will make things ... right.

I disagree.

Fantasy is as sad on the left as on the right, demonization and irrationality are even sadder when worn by that "team." Stop with the Chopra quotes -- the man doesn't even believe in evolution, don't look to him for advice. Stop with the pretend-corporatization. The Huffington Post is not a newspaper, has no editorial standards, and just wants you to click on the ads. They are quite happy to post an article about an actress who lifts her leg over her head -- content is just a tool to page views. Stop with the pretend-political "movements" -- Move-On soaked up your donations and energy, tried an ineffective strategy, and hasn't shortened our time at war by a single day.

People are telling me Clinton was great, that this is now the "right" war, that you can't have health care or rights for everyone because there's only ... a 60-40 supermajority vote split ... and we'll have to wait until ... a date to be named later.

I disagree.

I'm rooting for the best newspapers over the blogs. I'm rooting for things not to be "free" by default -- if maybe sometimes free by choice. I'm hoping people get past their sense that down-to-earth is better than smart or effective. Elite is a good thing, not a bad thing, and Bush never could finish that line about getting fooled again with a straight face. I'm rooting against pretend-tough and for real strength. Against cartoons and for books.

That's a hard sell, I know.

I went to lunch with a group of fellow students right after the Berlin Wall fell. The sense of excitement was palpable. I slowly noticed, though, as I listened to people tell me what they expected would happen, that they were generally uninformed. I was for the enthusiasm, but ... you can tell when someone is talking about something they don't really understand in any real sense. My opinion -- that the world would quickly become more complicated and that the concept of "An End To History" was foolish -- was very unpopular.

My sense is that we're at a similar moment as we approach 2010. There's a sense of a bad time passing; everyone seems to agree. I'm hoping to see a sense of willingness to work toward something. I don't see it yet, but maybe I'll be surprised.

(With apologies to Bret Easton Ellis.)


Chris said...

Amazing post Ted. I agree with you on most every point (except Star Wars). Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year, and decade.

Ted Fisher said...

Thanks, Chris.

The "Star Wars" comment is negotiable: I did enjoy the first one in 1978. I've found it odd that it's become canonized, though, and that's why I pick on it.

Who knows, maybe George Lucas will make three great films in the decade ahead.