Monday, January 5, 2015

Bye, Bye American Pie and All That

The pop hit may not be something with which you are familiar, but today it seems an apt lament to all that is going, going, gone in this world that has an obsession with technology and total ignorance of how to truly interact with people. For sure, we are losing our people skills and I suppose it really came home when I watched "Gone Girl" last night.

The film, which I highly recommend, is almost an ode to the fake veneer of acceptable sociability that seems so evident today. Forget about all that looking over their shoulder as you greet someone. Scanning the room has always been there and will always be in a world that has too many tinges of narcissism and self-promotion. Good guys and those who would be authentic are being pushed to the edges and there's an ever-present campaign to marginalize them. Are we getting ready for another campaign for a return to the earth and creating truly honest, caring relationships? Time will tell.

The theme popped up, too, as I read the many articles on the late Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York. A man of the people who came from a poor area of Queens, didn't speak English for his first years, went to what is termed a "blue collar" law school and rose to be an orator's orator. He also almost ran for President and would have been appointed to the US Supreme Court but he asked that his name be withdrawn. What a justice he would have made. We can only imagine the arguments and briefs he would have written and how he would have championed the little people.  What a loss, but he had his reasons and some of them, I'm sure, were highly private.

Cuomo, you see, was a man who believed in doing what he set out to do and felt he had more of an obligation to the people of New York who elected him and didn't want to leave until he had completed his work. How many people do you know who would have refused such an incredible appointment? It's lifetime. It's ne plus ultra in law and you are forever more the ultimate authority on the law of the land. Incredible, but he did turn it down.

A new Congress begins this week and already there are rumblings about what the newly elected and incredibly green representatives will try to push on the American people. Congress is no longer representative of the people. Take a look at where their campaign funds come from and you can quickly decipher the writing on the wall about coming legislative efforts. One, of course, will be to push through the Keystone Pipeline as a job creator. Anyone who reads into the deal will see the jobs are only to set it up so that Canadian oil can be shipped through the US to a port on the Gulf of Mexico for export abroad. Jobs? Hardly. Want a quick education on this? Watch whatever you can find that has been prepared by Bill Moyers, one of the truly fine journalists still left, and who is leaving his TV program.

Moyers, as you may not know, started out as a Baptist minister,  and he has maintained a straight-arrow approach to every topic of vital interest to the American people. His voice, which is sorely needed right now, will no longer be heard on PBS and that is not a shame. It is a deficit from which we may never return to honesty in journalism free from fear of job loss or corporate action.

The opiate of the people isn't religion, it is deficient media that burps forth inconsequential articles and programs that serve only to put American intellectualism into a deeper stupor. Why teach kids to write asks one article. Write? We shouldn't teach children to write? Why give them books that tax their ability to reason? Toss out the Socratic method and bring on "Mob Wives" and they'll be satisfied. Infantilize the entire TV audience and do it, of course, via all media devices as well, and you will have won a battle that no one ever suspected was being fought.

Wealthy people in China are paying thousands of dollars to learn how to attend an elegant dinner party. They want to know which fork to use, how to hold their utensils and what to do with their napkins once the meal is over. But what they don't see is the truly incongruous action on their part displayed by their continuous use of cell phones and texting during the meal. Who teaches that as rude behavior? Flutes and balloons are fine to know about but do they make for cultured persons? A buffoon can pick up the proper fork, but he's still a buffoon. So, out the window with culture and bring on the Tom Joneses of the 21st Century. Bawdy behavior and worshiping at the altar of Adephagia may be fashionable again if we can believe what we've seen in "The Wolf of Wall Street."

So, you can see that films really do reveal a lot, don't they? As I watch the film this evening, I'll be looking not for just the story line but what it says about our culture.  Would anyone have made "It's a Good Life" this year? Don't know.

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