Opinion and Sensationalism: A portrait of nations

by on May 5th, 2005

“I speak in the name of the entire German people when I assure the world that we all share the honest wish to eliminate the enmity that brings far more costs than any possible benefits… It would be a wonderful thing for all of humanity if both peoples would renounce force against each other forever. The German people are ready to make such a pledge.”

Adolf Hitler – 14th October 1933

1st. September, 1939 The German forces crossed the Polish border initiating the second great war, and engulfing the civilized world into a spree of mayhem and slaughter.

Has the gullibility of the masses and its pathetic dependence upon media and sensationalism changed?

Today popular sports and popular music command some of the greatest high-ticket industries in the nation. Politicians (doesn’t matter Democrat or Republican, as long as they are good looking, or have destroyed evil robots and villains with bare hands), and actors, actresses, and bearded, evil, Arab terrorists with “the eyeliner effect” underneath their deep socketed eyes (as observed by my girlfriend) dominate the attention span of the modern consumer who likes to call himself American and ride big SUVs with bright red,white, and blue flag stickers on them. The Olsen twins are more popular than Jacques Barzun. Britney Spears is more well known than John Dewey. Some would even say that Ben Franklin was Obi Wan Kenobi’s Jedi master.

So how can a nation so consumed with what it is being told in short sixty second newsbytes, and three minute long pop songs, and how well the flyers did (whatever they are) yesterday at the Eagle’s stadium; grasp the delicate mechanism of this vast changing world and its complex mental mechanism becoming more complex by the day, by the minute, by the bullet?

We constantly gripe that our “busy” lives rarely afford us the opportunity to examine existence. Ah! the coziness of that familiar excuse. But then, have we ever stopped to ask ourselves why our lives are so ..well.. “busy”? Is our constant preoccupation with mindlessness accidental?

Indeed, once one turns 18 it is understood that one has become an adult and prepared to receive the things of existence such as sex (immediately),alcohol (3 years later),and that oft misunderstood cliché “dying for my country”.

Sex, alcohol, and taking of life were once touted as the most deplorable and heinous of vices, but upon the resting twilight of the last day of the 17th. year, these things become tacit salutary boons.

Years and years of penitence, obedience, and reduced liberties, on that day become redeemed. The “sins” public education and rhetoric of age-propriety so religiously guarded us against, all of a sudden become rewards.

“Congratulations! You graduated from high school!”

“Well, high school was not real life. This is the genuine deal!” we are accustomed to hearing.

Now let us stop and examine the strangeness of this.

We expend premium tax dollars every year to send our kids to public schools where they are trained to become successful. Of course, successful means making a lot of money. Making a lot of money means, better sex, better alcohol, and as far as dying for one’s country, [ahem], well someone else gets to do that. It is a very noble thing for them to do after all. I just looked at the latest flier: Wal Mart is selling discounted flag car stickers.

How is success connected to education then if success means better sex, better alcohol, and having someone else do the dishes for a change?

Isn’t education supposed to teach us abstinence? Is it not meant to warn us against liver damage and drunk driving? And how many times since young Johnny lied a pretty lie; when he said “It wasn’t me ma’am” when he actually did put the thumb tack under four eyed Eddie’s work bench, was he not told that he is to be responsible for his actions in the future?

It’s a delicate contradiction to relish. Yet, success is connected to education, because education also teaches us perfect SAT scores and perfect GPA’s give us competitive options in our lives, which the unfortunate peers whose parents do not provide KAPLAN SAT tutoring sessions, or purchase nose jobs for on their sixteenth birthday; have.

After eighteen years of being marinated in the quintessential rhetoric of Deweyian socialism and humanism, the interlude of naivety flashes before one’s eyes like deception as the surrealism of a consumer world presses down on the chest of our youth like an exotic harlot. The temptation so sensually caressing our hardened instincts is too much to resist, as the melting fingers of glitz, fashion media, and pop culture finally invite us into the limelight for a special one on one lap dance.

These days whoever believes this concocted public education fairy tale of sobriety, abstinence, and respect; this rhetoric still taught and taught with greater intensity in some parts of the country, is seen as a fool by peers.

Long time ago in the 50’s in America, and ironically still today in most civilized Indo-Aryan countries, when a young man asks a young lady on a date, it is an unprecedented romantic event relished by the couple and its community.

The boldness of the young man is revered by his peers. The practical impeccability of his manners is emulated. It is understood that the young girl who was once so shy and coy, is now a lady. Her courtesies, dignity, and grace are regarded with a reverent hush by her peers. The ritual is consummated with an awe, as growth slowly eases into another sphere of experience. The sun of a new spring dawns on the sun kissed brows of two young lovers.

But that was 1950’s suburban America in the days of Camelot and “Leave it to Beaver”; this is 2005. Accounting a slight change in setting, the familiar narrative takes a far different tone transposed against contemporary times and..shall we call them..”values”?

Consider this:

A young sophomore boy used to have a crush on a pretty young girl in her grade. It was not even what she said, nor was it what she did.

When she spoke about her evening splurge at the Old Navy store in the posh section of the city, her glossed lips glided so sensually over one another, her eyes rolled so effortlessly, her chemically softened skin flashed like a plasma TV screen as she glided feline-like across one side of her desk to the other to multitask around her gossip circle.

Kid next to her, the sheepish class nerd, would so liberally give up his answers to the chemistry problems with an awkward grin. The girl next to her would engage her in a tantalizing narrative of yesterday’s blind date with a senior from another high school that she would frequently describe as “soo hawt”.

The other young kids who would overhear the conversation would nod reverently at one another across the desks, and observe: “Pimp.”

The young sophomore boy spent restless nights in his bed for months, adoring the memory of the cosmopolitan goddess. He used to get so excited in the middle of the night that somehow when he woke up in the morning he would find that the top half of his sleeping trousers have fallen off. When he turned the radio on it played music that reminded him of her chemically softened skin, of which surely her larynx must be made out of as well.

When he would watch television, lo, the cosmopolitan goddess from his classroom was sprinting across the beach to demonstrate the potency of a deodorant. Of course he didn’t find anything strange about that. He was far too preoccupied. Far too “busy”.

It was the hardest when our young sophomore boy would find himself stranded in a prominent public place, such as the local mall or the library. He started seeing doubles. He thought he would go insane.

It was a Friday. Young sophomore boy slowly walked up to the sophomore high school girl. She didn’t notice him next to her so caught up she was in her daily ration of euphoria. The boy asked her if she is free for the weekend.

The eyes of the whole class fell upon the boy as a sarcastic hush descended. The girl look at him incredulously, the shadow of her smile cascading into her cheeks. “Oh Gawd, he hasn’t even been touched yet.” The girls around her started giggling boisterously.

“Has the gullibility of the masses and its pathetic dependence upon media and sensationalism changed [since 1933, Hitler’s Germany]?”

That was our original question.

From that juncture we scrutinized public education, patriotism, success, and romance. We traversed the length of tradition, and examined our experiences. So it is, we find ourselves now, facing the very immediate. Forget Jacques Barzun, forget John Dewey, forget Ben Franklin. We live in here and now. We want it here right now.

So here we sit, transfixed to our computer screens, some of us alternating between soft porn, reality show transcripts, and pop journalism. Provocative images of Baghdad occasionally interrupt our stream of consciousness. A rolled over humvee here, a dead insurgent there.

After we have relished fleshly curves, we must relish in our patriotic obligation as well. Inundated with the boons of peace, inundated with porn, rap, and the quest for a perfect pair of designer jeans, we feel extremely patriotic. We feel like we can kick some towelhead ass. We are prepared to defend liberty.

We feel we have an opinion.

“Total people killed in World War II: approximately 60 millionWikipedia.com

“It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.” Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945,Minister of Propaganda in the Third Reich)

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates.

Alexander Rai