I know I’m trying to use this blog and my twitter to make myself a famous comedian and such. I’m supposed to be funny, silly, sarcastic, cynical, and jaded. However that cynicism and jadedness is supposed to come with a wink and a nudge to let you know, “Hey, I’m just joshing around, It’s not that bad.” That I think is a bit of bullshit.
A huge reason why I tell jokes, lash out, cut into people, is because no one would listen if I just vented without making them laugh. They would just shut down, tune me out and think, “Another stupid angry twat on the internet.”
But, I’m going to take a break from trying to be funny to be deadly serious for a few.
I have to ask: What the hell happened to us?
What the hell happened to our country, our society, our culture to become just so damn cynical and jaded? How come the only way we can communicate is with snark, sarcasm, and thinly veiled disdain? Why are we all struggling to be considered the most cynical of the cynical and “more ironically detached than thou.”
What got me going was that Urban Outfitters Kent State Sweatshirt. I know I posted a joke about it last night based on incredulity, but I want to be serious. Who in the hell seriously though putting that up would be okay? You mean to tell me, no one, from the procurer to the photographer (who would have known through his familiarity with iconic photos), to the web page admin, to the write up guy, thought, “You know…that’s kind of fucked up.”
However, you know what bothers me. Is that without a doubt, someone knew, said something, and they did it anyway. The in fact deliberately did it in order to draw page clicks, protests, and outrage. “No such thing as bad publicity.” That’s the thing. We have become a society where people think that being an insensitive, abusive, inconsiderate ass, is something that should be considered the pinnacle of cool. I know this has happened before with things such as the t-shirts that say, “eat less” being sold to pre-teen girls, shirts with a yellow Star of David on the chest, mocking Native American culture by wearing a war bonnet and stomping around on stage. People try to excuse their behavior on the internet with the excuse of “oh, I have Aspergers”, physically threaten and stalk those we disagree with over video games. We mock the victims of diseases, we harass the children of people who commit suicide. We mock 9/11, Trayvon Martin, random strangers on the internet. We steal private photographs and post them on the internet in a fucked up sense of entitlement to their bodies just because they’re celebrities.
I though, “Fine, terrible people will be terrible people, they just have an outlet now,” but then the Kent State thing came along and the more I pondered on it, the more it disturbed me.
Here we are, exploiting an iconic moment of tragedy in American history, a point that Hunter S. Thompson called “the high water mark” of our idealism as a people, to sell a $130 dollar sweatshirt, covered in ersatz bloodstains and holes that look like they were formed by a bullet.
Is this what we have become as a nation? So jaded by the media, by each other, by our own experiences, we just don’t value anything anymore? The fact that anyone could even consider selling an overprices sweatshirt that clearly was meant to evoke the memory of a tragedy that defined an era in our history, just leaves me shaking my head. That we have become so desperate to be noticed that we lose all respect for other people?
Are we now so ironically detached we have lost the ability to even squeeze out a few drops of empathy for other people? Is it so important to stand out that it comes at the cost of being seen as a complete asshole? Apparently so. Apparently the shitty attitude of “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” has taken on the meaning of, “we’ve got to constantly be pushing the boundaries of good taste, empathy, and civility to stay relevant.”
It’s not just with fashion and trendyness. We’re so cynical that we listen to t.v. show hosts for medical advice for our children. We care more about what an unqualified blogger or youtube video creator says than our doctors. We have been beat over the head with the idea that doctors in our country are just out for our money, are in bed with “Big Pharma”, and the insurance companies, that we would rather listen to a comedian about vaccines than 99% of every doctor on the fucking planet.
We flock to websites that pretend to be legitimate news that toss us headlines like, “TEN FOODS THAT WILL CAUSE YOUR ASSHOLE TO EXPLODE THAT ARE IN YOUR KITCHEN RIGHT NOW RAPING YOUR CAT!”
Instead of respecting peoples privacy these days, we’re all about smearing anything that resembles shit all over them the minute we steal it from them. Yes, people knew Kennedy was an adulterer, but that mattered fuck all to his ability to be President. If Kennedy were alive today, we wouldn’t call his Presidency “Camelot”, we’d call it something tactless like “Cameltoe,” and speculate that any blonde woman he smiled at, he was balls deep inside just hours before. Yes, adultery is wrong, but we don’t need to have it hammered over our heads every thirty seconds when talking about someone.
In stark, and disturbing irony, we are so forgiving of famous people who do shitty, shitty things as long as they continue to amuse us. Chris Brown beat Rhianna, but he kept right on touring. We honestly cheered on Charlie Sheen’s drug benders. Our society has a collective hard on for celebrities in death spirals like Lindsay Lohan, but goddamn wasn’t Phillip Seymour Hoffman a tragedy?
Then we market outrage. We have turned righteous indignation into a marketable skill, and a way to make money. Fox News is a company that thrives off of anger, rage, misinformation, and disgusting behavior. I honestly cannot remember any time in my life, people who called themselves journalists working for a news organization, thinking it’s okay to call the First Lady fat. The only reason Rush Limbaugh even exists is because he figured out how to make money off of being offensive and angry. Don’t think liberals are any more enlightened. People have launched entire public media careers based off of spewing half understood academic terms they got from an Anthropology 101 class, to make money on youtube, blogs, speaking tours, etc., being outraged at every last slight. They look for things to be outraged about. If you aren’t the right kind of activist you’re worse than any member of the hetero-cisgendered-white-right handed-pull over instead of button up-dog loving but cat disliking-colonialist-patriarchy that might or might not be oppressing you. You have committed the sin of being of a different approach or opinion on the matter. And the horrible thing about these people, is that they are just so goddamned loud! They drown out those that have nuanced, educated, balanced opinions that are more interested in building bridges between camps instead of trying to figure out ways to burn down those camps. Those people get driven out of movement and shouted down because they’re more interested in talking instead of shouting (for a $5000 speakers fee mind you).
This is what we’ve become.
A society that revels in watching other peoples failures through “reality t.v.”. We’ve spawned a political movement in the Tea Party that would horrify their idols like Ronald Reagan. We’ve turned our means of information into politicized shout platforms where you have to wade through thousands of tons of shit to get to a gem. Instead of sharing ideas via the internet, we’ve turned it into a bully pulpit both figuratively as well as literally a way to bully people. Our news networks continue to deteriorate into places for pundits to shout at each other, while “news” sites spew unverifiable garbage and gossip. We tear into each other in public. We shoot people who cut us off in traffic. We beat up the ref because he called a penalty on our kid. We make fun of Robin Williams for being so depressed he killed himself, and then abuse his daughter to the point she has to become a hermit. We’re a place where people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are famous for simply being rich. Christianity in our country has become a mantra to become wealthy (prosperity gospel shit), and charity to the poor is a godless Communist act. We slut shame but demand sexually available women. Men don’t know if being nice or a douche-bag is the right thing to be. We think that mocking another persons culture is cool, and then when they get mad they don’t appreciate our “art” or respect our “right to free speech.” We have lost any touch of empathy that we gladly exploit the death of innocent victims in order to get page clicks on our websites.
We are so far removed from what we were hoping to become with the Kent State protests that we are now exploiting it for money. Is this really a society to be proud of? Is this really something that should be allowed to continue. Twenty-somethings; is this a culture you’re proud of? Is “hipster irony” and cool so worth it, that it actually makes us worse people because of it?
What the hell happened to us between 1970 and 2014 that we went from where people were willing to fight to make things better for everybody to not giving a shit about anybody but themselves?