The Future is Staring You in the Face
James L. Secor
The future is staring you in the face. The serious social media is in denial, if, indeed, it has any idea at all, so intent is it in chasing after one crumb or another left by Hansel in Trumpty-Dumpty Wood. The frivolous social media is without thought or insight, babbling like a murder of ravens disturbed over some fresh roadkill. The academics, so over-filled with intellectual spasms labeled “other places,” remain in denial, despite the pop culture of the 1970s some 100 years behind the Old Country. It seems that only in America does pop culture have no effect on society and ethics and, as the Valley Girls say, “Whatever.” The pop culture machine rolls on, gold teeth and fangs drooling over greedy profits.
The future is staring you in the face. TV and movies. War and war and more war. Heroism to no end. Only via killing and mutilation and personal suffering of others can you gain herohood. No! Just by being a soldier do you become a hero. Enlist and go kill. Kill. Kill. Kill! All for the greater glory of America, a land so isolated from the rest of the world it has lost its hold on reality. More war to rationalize the cross-eyed destruction and lack of humanity already inflicted on the Middle East–let’s forget the hell America has wrought in South America, too. We are so righteous and glorious. America! America! America! It’s all so romantic. And overwrought. And ignorant.
Romantic. Out of touch with reality.
I’d like to say, “Remember Bull Run” but Americans don’t read and have no truck with history, whether of another country or their own. Bull Run. Site of the first pitched battle of the Civil War. The romance of the battle brought out not only reporters but spectators: ladies and gentlemen and children and servants. What a glorious picnic entertainment this was to be! The rebellious Confederates would surely be put to rout and the self-righteous Union Army hailed as heroes. Heroes of the highest order, fighting is they were for the rights of man. Reality often has a ghastly way of breaking in on silly dreams, especially those of the Three Musketeers sort of high ideals.
Go, boys! Go! Go! Go!
Within moments, the romantic wonder of war for what was good and right became the reality of dead, burnt bodies, shouts and groans of pain and dying, arms and legs smashed and severed, blood and smoke everywhere. What a salacious picnic! Pickles and dessert up on the hillside, death and destruction down in the valley.
And, to top it off, the Rebels broke through the Union’s mightier numbers! How could bad win?! Oh! Let’s go home. This war thing is terrible. Terrible. Suddenly, war was no longer romantic heroism in the fight for right–both sides fought for what they believed right. This kind of nullifies the idea of God on one side or another.
George Bush II made sure the realities of war, as made public during the Vietnam debacle, were hidden from public view by banning coverage. No more blood and guts. Only reports of good. Not even notice of the bodies of dead soldiers coming home, albeit in sealed coffins. Obama didn’t lessen the irreality; he increased the mayhem but kept the blood and guts out of the public eye unless it was to show the enemy creamed and in bad light. And every soldier was a hero. Every enlisted man. The war in the Middle East became a glorified Crusade.
Thank you for your service. Thank you for your missing arms and legs. Thank you for your lifelong pain, your PTSD. Thank you for the medals on your chests and your spiffy uniforms. My heroes!
All of our movies extol the suffering heroism of war. New additions to TV land extol the wonder and rightness and heroism of war. Comic books are about war. The superheroes are as vicious and vengeance-filled and virulent as the bad guys. The heroes stand victorious and bigger than life in the midst of destruction, ruined cities and cheering survivors because they are good and right and above it all. Novels of war and survival against all odds fill the bookshelves and Internet sites. Indeed, the ethic today seems to be, if you don’t agree with me I get to kill you. Die! Die! Die. You fucking bastard!
The future staring you in the face, the reality staring you in the face is War.
Great nation, my ass!
But, first, there’s the new Roaring Twenties. Everyone going crazy over living, living for the moment. Something lost in a true epidemic that killed seven million in its first year.