Saturday, February 26, 2005

Disposable society

I saw an ad on TV today for a program whose sole entertainment factor was demolition and pyrotechnics. As the host of the show put it, "Everyone's dream is to blow shit up." Not everyone. Not mine.

What does it say about our society that we have so much fucking STUFF, that destroying it for descruction's sake has become entertainment? I'm not talking about the awe, adrenaline, or satisfaction gleaned from demolishing something that must be demolished for a greater pupose, like imploding an old, unsafe building to clear space for more attractive and efficient development. I'm not talking about destroying some perfectly good televisions in order to scientifically test which packing materials offer the most protection. I'm talking about taking something that is perfectly sound and very expensive, like an automobile, and blowing it up because you like explosions. Newsflash: that's what FIREWORKS are for people!

What does this say about our consumerist/destructo culture? Two things: 1 - That we have valued material goods so highly for so long, we have accumulated more material goods than we can possibly have use for. 2 - That we have surrounded ourselves with so many material things, we no longer attach any value to them. Nothing is precious, nothing rare, nothing earned. We value the getting, but not what we get. We are on a mission to obtain, but at a loss for meaning. We've spent so long aquiring, we've saturated our both out storage and appreciative capablities. The new goal is not to aquire, but to waste.

Waste, a sin or crime in every culture around the globe, has now become an end unto itself. We are a wasteful society, and we are proud of it. As such, we are the most decadent, satiated culture ever to walk (well, drive is more like it; in this case, SUVs) the planet. Do we feel guilty about this? Lord, no. As Americans, we are no longer raised to believe that we can all earn as much as the guy at the top of the totem pole if we work hard enough for it. Merit is not discussed. What we deserve is not an element of our culture. Rather, we are brought up by the popular culture to believe that we are all entitled to the same stuff as the guy at the totem's tip, regardless of what we've done. We're created equal = we're entitled to equal benenfits. Anyone can be president = We'd all make just as good a president as the next guy.

America used to be the land where you could have the Dream by the sweat of your brow, and swim in the pride that came with the accomplishment. It used to mean that anyone could earn the Dream. To our consumerist culture the Dream is no longer a triumph, it's a gift. No one wants to earn it anymore, they want it handed to them. That's why the airwaves are inundated with advertisments to give big, suburban home, flahsy cars and fast computers to anyone, regardless of thier income or credit. "Don't let the banks turn you down," they say (translation: "Don't listen to the experts who can obviously see that you can't afford this"). "Bad credit? No credit? No problem! We'll put you in the house/car of your dreams today, with no money down!" (translation: Don't work! Don't save! There's no virtue in patience and persistance. We'll happily take advantage your desire to own something you havn't earned and can't afford by putting you so far in debt you will never again see the light of the black, while we live like fat cats off the interest payments you can barely make! Come see us today!")

That's ok. In 3 more years when you realize what you've done, you can cure your depression and debt in one swift move, by letting a TV show pay you to blow up the house/car you couldn't afford for the entertainment of 6 million other morons like yoursef.