Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Most Honest 3 1/2 Minutes of Television

This is the opening scene of the debut episode of Aaron Sorkin's HBO series, The Newsroom. It's been derided for good reason for being overly didactic and beating viewers over the head every four minutes with the lesson that we need a fair, unbiased press that actually does its job. Frankly, the series took a nosedive after this debut episode but that's just me.

But Jeff Daniels' rant in this scene when asked why America is the greatest country in the world is exactly like something I would've said: America is not the greatest country in the world. First off, the question is idiotically jingoistic in the extreme, being a nationalistic type of "When did you stop beating your wife?" question.

Daniels' character tells it like it is and easily rattles off statistics and mercilessly shines a harsh sodium light on how this generation is vastly different from its predecessors, the last generation before the baby boomers.

Secondly, he says, without calling out conservatives or even mentioning the word, "You want to know why no one likes liberals? Because they lose. If they're so fucking smart, why do they Goddamned lose all the time?"

We could debate this point and try to answer this question until the cows come home but perhaps the writer of this scene had his finger on the pulse of the question and answer. It could be argued that liberals are so despised because those who cannot think for themselves (that would be most conservatives and independents) have been conditioned to believe that liberals and anything we stand for are Godless, unAmerican Commie pinkos who want to take away your money and put everyone on welfare while robbing America of its exceptionalism and demonizing success.

It never occurs to these mouthbreathers who believe this pap that fewer and fewer of us actually are succeeding, that "American exceptionalism" and "success" these days refers not to American ingenuity but our capacity to fuck over each other and those of other countries with the friendly aid of not liberals but murderous corporations that now own everything from the whole United States to other countries to the Olympics to entire wars.

And this corrosive bigotry against everything liberal expands to everything even loosely associated with us so now we're at war against Charles Darwin, Pell Grants, Big Bird and Elmo, proper spelling and punctuation, paying your taxes and anything and everything that even smells vaguely like Panama Red and patchouli oil and moderate, nonpartisan or bipartisan entities such as Hollywood and the media are pejoratively branded as "liberal."

The cruel and stupid have taken over this country and have plunged us into the real-life prequel of Idiocracy, a movie in which people with IQ's below 80 are prized and have become the status quo. And the reason why the cruel and stupid have taken over this country and are metastasizing is not because they have a genius for organization but because they're easy to organize by those who have Machiavellian gifts for exploitation. Because it's always easier for humans to loathe and hate in large numbers than it is to love in equally large groups.

Even when they gather in large groups to show love for one god or another it inevitably gets mutated into hatred and prejudice against those who disagree with them. There's Godwin's law and then there's God's law: If Thou Dost Not Stroketh My Ego and That of My Lord, Thou Shalt Surely Goeth to Hell. It never occurs to these people that if their God was a human being living among us, he'd immediately be put in four point restraints and fed a steady diet of multi-colored pills (although it's just as likely he'd have a commentary show on Fox "News").

Liberals are too smart and fractious for their own good. Our all-inclusiveness and willingness to allow for all viewpoints to share space under our tattered tent (and I'm thinking of Blue Dog Democrats and craven, undeclared apostates such as Joe Lieberman) is what will prove to be our undoing.

So watch this three and a half minute-long video and if you're old enough, if you're in your early 50s like me, think of what America used to be, what it used to stand for back when we really were the greatest nation on earth. We're falling further and further behind European and Third World countries in education, health and life expectancy because we've allowed ourselves and this rotting carcass of a country to be taken over by right wingers and corporations.

And in light of Romney's overseas trip, I cannot express in words (and I'm quite possibly the best unpublished novelist in America) how much I loathe what this nation has turned into, a nation where reaction has supplanted thought and reason, in which ignorance is prized far above erudition.

40 years ago, we used to walk on the moon during 500,000 mile round trips. Now we can't even stroll on the beach in a Gulf Coast state.


At July 30, 2012 at 1:26 PM, Blogger LanceThruster said...

The cruel and stupid have taken over this country

My pal Bernie the Attorney (retired at age 46) moved to New Zealand and left me with his palatial estate (of which I am barely scraping by but still upbeat as that's far better than drowning). People ask why he moved and I tell them he said the leadership ad voting population was getting meaner and stupider. Everyone knew *exactly* what he meant.

I love it there in the high desert and take each day at a time. I'm reminded of this bit of dialogue as far as being "left behind."

Barman: Did you say the world is coming to an end? Shouldn't we all lie on the floor or put paper bags over our heads?
Ford: If you like.
Barman: Will it help?
Ford: Not at all.
[Ford runs out of the pub]
Barman: Last orders, please!


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