We Are the Engines of Destruction

I see people everywhere.

I see them and I wonder if they saw The Hunger Games.

 I wonder if they saw Brazil.

I wonder if they've read On the Road or anything by Bukowski.  I see people everywhere and I wonder if they see how empty is the worship of sports figures and pop stars and commerce. I wonder if they see the corrupt nature of the capitalist dogma and how most of the their waking life is utterly without substance?

Did you know It's a Wonderful Life was a huge flop at the box office in its day but because of the ability for television stations to run it for free as often as they wanted to, it became a modern classic? Doesn't it strike you as odd and a bit schizophrenic that we routinely watch movies that espouse the power of the average person against the giant corporate machines that run/ruin things and yet, like Emmet in The Lego Movie (an entire enterprise designed from the beginning to sell children toy blocks), we are mostly just happy to go on singing "Everything is Awesome!" and consuming the bullshit?

It occurs to me that stories have a lot of power.  Both to educate and enlighten but also to dull and castrate.  There was a study done once that indicated that our experiences watching a movie translate in some essential ways as actual experience (i.e.. the adrenaline you feel when watching Frodo run from the Nazgul is somehow added to your own personal catalogue of experiences as if it were YOU running from the Nazgul).  Which may mean that when a teenager watches Divergent - a film all about the rejection of the adult party line and authority - she feels like she has rejected authority, she has somehow experienced the feeling of doing so, without ever lifting a finger or showing any signs of significant rebellion at all.

We are living in a culture that trumpets narcissism above individualism. A body politic that places “tolerance” as the goal rather than acceptance and embrace. We revere “data” and ignore understanding.  Opportunity is more important than decency.  And experiences that we feel we have engaged in without actually having to do a single thing.  A virtual world brought to you by Hasbro, tween literature and Michael Bay.  A world where feeling good is ultimately more important than doing good.

And I see people everywhere.

I am one of them.

I recognize that I feel like I have been Rocky Balboa and have defeated Voldemort and am a Jedi Knight without having actually fucking done anything but immerse myself in those stories.  I look up from my Facebook page on my Apple device using my overpriced internet juice by RCN drinking my overpriced cup of coffee wearing my boots purchased via Amazon.com and decide to take a selfie because it looks like I'm behaving like a writer or an artist or just that I'm feeling all sexy and shit at this moment and think I'd like everyone within the sound of my digital voice to experience my vanity for just a brief second.  

I am the problem.  I am the victim.  I am the engine of destruction.

You are the problem.  You are the victim.  You are the engine of destruction.

We are the problem.  We are the victims.  We are the engines of destruction.

How does the rat get out of the labyrinth when he is focussed solely on that delicious, well-packaged and overpriced piece of gouda?  How does the cubicle worker wasting her essence on a maze of paperwork and horseshit see her way out of it when she can't stop thinking about The Bachelorette?  How does Cassandra convince the people their doom approaches when she can't quite stop from uploading her cell phone pictures of her latest meal on Instagram?

The hipsters and the outliers are convinced that their embrace of edgier music and films and books exempt them from this Culture of Dysfunction but they are only fooling themselves.  Instead of John Rambo or Indiana Jones or Roxie Hart, they have experienced (without actually experiencing) being several versions of Ellen Page and numerous faux representations of Johnny Rotten and Henry Rollins and Patti Smith without living that shit out.  Fake cool is the currency of the machine.  Belief in a superiority of taste is the manufactured shame that fuels the commercial world.

None of us is spared inclusion.  There are no conscientious objectors in this war.  

We are the problem.  We are the victims.  We are the engines of destruction.

So what?  Stop purchasing things?  Stop eating out at restaurants or buying food from grocery stores?  No more coffee or cigarettes?  No more mind-numbing beer or whiskey or weed used to force us to unsee the vacuous nature of our own particular cog-ness in a machine so much larger than us?  Embrace only Outsider Art (which has the same ratio of Good to Complete Fuckery as do Tom Cruise movies)?

Maybe just try to experience the things you see more in reality than in virtual reality.  Maybe try to recreate those scenes from It's a Wonderful Life but in Real Life.  Because The Hunger Games is just a thinly veiled metaphor for what is going on in our realities now.  And we are all Katniss.