Wednesday, July 30

Why Don't We Care Anymore?

This might possibly be the most serious thing I have written on this blog as of goes.

As of late, my new roommate has been deeply immersed in the writing and life of the late Doctor, Hunter S. Thompson. Intrigued by this man, I became involved in his studies as well, reading what I could about Thompson and researching his life (by "researching" I mean I went and saw Gonzo and stepped out halfway through to go buy a pack of smokes). I have been called "Thompson-esque" before, usually due to my affinity for drinking to excess, making outlandish statements, womanizing to excess, and wearing ridiculous hats.
Exhibit A

As you can see, Hunter Thompson and I have a lot in common. But while watching Gonzo, I felt a certain sadness creep over me as the images flickered across the screen. It's not something you can describe easily with a word, or even with a series of's more of a sense of loss. Watching the evens of the '60s and '70s unfold, from Martin Luther King to the Vietnam protests to the campaign trail of '82, there was a marked difference from the footage of yesteryear to the footage of today: people just don't care anymore.
In the heyday of rock and roll, long hair and political angst, Americans would show up in droves to protest the treatment of blacks, the rights of women, and America's foreign policy. Now we watch other people protest on TV. Instead of marching down to City Hall to hear someone talk about their political platforms, we sit at home and watch what the evening news chooses to tell us, at most getting up from our recliners, brushing the microwave dinners from our abundant laps, and waddling to the computer to give our opinion in some online CNN poll. Instead of being part of the news, we accept that news happens Elsewhere, and that it does not affect us. And where has it gotten us?
Now we pay $5 a gallon for gasoline, exported from the countries that we are told are our sworn enemies. Now we watch as our politicians re-enact the high school pranks of their youth in a holocaustic equivalent of egging someone's house. Now we turn to a screen, a monitor, and a keyboard to make our voices heard in an anonymous poll which no one takes seriously. Instead of chaining ourselves to a shop front and screaming for change, we click on "a", "b", "c" or "undecided" in some media-fed frivolous online survey. Instead of learning about a political candidate's policy, or going to their next local appearance to question their policies, we turn from C-SPAN to TMZ because it's more entertaining. Nothing affects US, the US of A, the City on a Hill, the ineffable and chosen-by-God Leaders of the Free World, because we are in charge. Who gives a shit about those left behind? Who cares about the children dying Over There? Countless blogs and essays and articles are written by our armed services, detailing the terrible killing of children and civilians which has occurred in this misguided war in Iraq, and no one cares because it does not affect America.
When the Twin Towers went down, we cared. We remixed a popular song ("How Many People Wanna Kick Some Ass?"), interspersed it with some sound bites from our President, and bought an American Flag. By the time we declared war on Iraq, we were either too afraid of another 9/11 or too apathetic to look at the terrible policy put forward by Bush. I know I was.
I was in New York when we declared war on Iraq, with a scheduled stop the next day in D.C. I was so terrified of another 9/11 that I would have gladly signed any version of the Patriot Act put before me. Hell, I would have endorsed the Malleus Maleficarum if it meant that I could feel safe. I'm not ashamed to admit it.
I am ashamed to admit, however, that as a generation Americans have become so complacent and so inveterate in our apathy that it takes something as severe as 9/11 to get us to pay attention to what's going on in the world. I'm ashamed of my generation, and I'm ashamed that we care more about the fact that Soul Caliber IV will contain Darth Vader and Yoda than we do the genocide that's occurring in Darfur and the political unrest in East Timor. I'm ashamed that right now, there are people Googling Soul Caliber IV because I just said that instead of continuing on to read this next sentence.
Our attention spans now last thirty minutes, with commercial breaks. Look at the way our media has changed: movies now have four or five different plot lines in them to keep our attention, compared to the long narratives of Streetcar Named Desire or Citizen Kane. We can't remember what happened a month ago, let alone years ago. Remember Terry Schiavo? Remember how you felt watching the airplanes fly into the World Trade Center?
Remember the last book you read?
Hunter Thompson's life and legacy continues to inspire me. He was a freak, yes, but we need freaks to push us out of our comfort zone, to make us better people, to help us realize what's truly important. Sure, maybe getting naked and smoking peyote in the woods isn't your thing. But unless someone pushes for the legalization of it, how will you know where you stand and why? What's important to you?
More importantly, what have you done with your life that's so goddam important?
Get out of your house. Climb a mountain. Sleep with a stranger. Find out where your limits are, why they are there, and push them. Hunter S. Thompson was a freak, yes, but I'm proud to be compared to him. I have three fears: that when I die, there will be a beautiful woman unloved, a good dinner uneaten, and I will have caught Bigfoot. We only have a little time on this Earth, and instead of beating Halo 3, I find it much more important to accomplish something substantial. Take a picture of yourself peeing in the ocean. Take a picture of yourself fighting a shark. Write a book. DO SOMETHING!

Now go get me a goddam drink.

Vote Obama.
Click this shit!

3 Bullshit Responses:

Anonymous Angry Token left the following bullshit...


6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous left the following bullshit...

Sweet, Vader and Yoda are going to be in Soul Caliber IV.

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous left the following bullshit...

Well said my friend.

But you know damn well that protests are the equivalent of candle-light vigils: just a way for self-deceiving people to feel they're making a difference in the world. When I think global change and social reform I certainly don't think "hmm, perhaps an ironic slogan on a cardboard sign is the key." Remember those hopelessly ineffectual groups of self-proclaimed social reformers at IWU? POWI and FMLA ring a bell?

Oh, and I recommend you read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by your boy Thompson; great shit.


1:36 PM  

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