You gotta ask yourself how our country got to where it’s at today.
Really, you do. Those amongst us who carelessly careen from one day to the next are essentially part is of the problem with our country. Those people certainly don’t feel responsible for asking the question, “What went wrong with America?” Probably because the answer is, simply…them.
Personally, I like to blame OJ.
No, I haven’t watched the American Horror Story: The People vs OJ. Ironically, I started thinking about this blog post back in early December and yesterday I saw The People vs OJ pop up in my Netflix recommendations. I asked The Silver Fox if he wanted to watch it with me and he passed, quipping “I know how it ends!” Which is pretty solid humor, even though we both know he’s a major non-fiction fan.
I mean, really…it’s either OJ getting away with murder or America passing up the opportunity to convert to the metric system.
OJ seems like the better option to me, if for no other reason than I would prefer that our good judgment as a country has eroded quickly over a relatively short time versus more slowly over a couple additional decades. If that makes any sense. Call it national pride…although I really don’t understand why we think teaching a new generation of school kids “New Math” again is a better idea – or easier than legit math, for that matter – than teaching them a system based on units of ten. It didn’t work in the 60s as New Math, why would we think renaming it or bundling it in with Common Core would make it adoptable 50 years later?
Speaking of new math…can we talk about the “alternative facts” from the recent inaugural crowd attendance and Kellyanne Conway’s attempt to spin them?
Alternative Facts aren’t actually facts anymore than New Math is a better way to teach arithmetic, is the thing. Stating what you wish to be true and supporting it with finger pointing and the distraction of supposed policies to keep whatever nonexistent error from happening again – like censoring the National Parks System – isn’t the same as applying computer programs that use logarithmic principles to scientifically estimate the size of a crowd.
Alternative Facts are…well, they’re lies.
New Math is…well, it’s a convoluted mess.
There’s no real logic or simple reason in New Math, so teaching kids a long and illogical way to do simple arithmetic doesn’t help to teach kids critical thinking like actual math does. It teaches them to make long, overly complicated arguments in place of simple answers.
Yeah, a lot like my blog entries. So what?
It’s also a lot like the explanations you get from the current administration about topics they aren’t prepared to discuss or talking points that are seemingly based just in ego defense…
Jumping around a bit, maybe you are wondering how Trump’s campaign, election “win” and transition to the presidency relates to OJ.
Before OJ allegedly killed Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman no one had ever really heard of them. Had there been no need of Robert Kardashian’s legal services, the Kardashian empire would never have existed.
But, noooo. OJ had to go on an alleged stabbing spree through Brentwood and then defend his alleged innocence against a ridiculous amount of contrary evidence by hiring an alleged Dream Team of defense attorneys…because innocent people need that much help defending said alleged innocence.
Kardashian was the lead along with help from a fast-talking, Jesse Jackson wannabe named Johnny Cochran, a soon to recuse himself F. Lee Bailey and (I think) some other guy no one remembers.
I could google that…not going to.
And here’s the deal, OJ was guilty of murder. Johnny Cochran was guilty of bastardizing Jackson’s appealingly rhythmic style of banter to cover up untruths and distract from facts. Sound familiar?
Kardashian was the worst of all…dropping dead a few years later and bequeathing to the world the gift of his ex-wife and their vacuous brood. Kardashian being worth only $30 million at the time of his death effectively ended any support he contributed to the lifestyle of his family, as well as whatever paternal guidance and good judgment he might have wielded over them.
An empire was born.The accumulation of wealth was just as important as ever for these Armenian-American entrepreneurs, but what became even more important was the accumulation of influence. In growing the Kardashian brand, they became famous for quite literally…nothing.
Nothing of value, anyway. The millions and billions of dollars they earned – allegedly – was a side effect of the whole OJ trial. OJ was famous as an athlete, who’s fame got a boost when he was proved innocent of doing something. The Kardashians became famous, on the other hand (that the glove still doesn’t fit), for doing nothing.
It’s pretty fucked up.
What America has learned from this is that nothing really matters besides the warmth generated by the social media “likes” of virtual strangers. In the years since, Facebook and Instagram have exploded, not so surprisingly. A bit more surprising is the advent of apps whose usefulness is a little less family friendly…namely, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Tumblr and many others. Those last three are most popular – almost exclusively – for what I like to call selfie porn.
The best of the three, in my opinion – and using the word “best” very liberally – is Tumblr. People openly admit that it’s an app for either art or porn. To have a really good page on this app, you’ve got to have a pretty impressive spank bank. Not to worry, most of the content is simply shared from other people’s Tumblr pages. There’s occasional selfie porn thrown in just to personalize the fame and attention one garners from Tumblr.
Nothing one’s mother would be proud of, I assure you. Likewise, I’m pretty sure my page is just links to my blog from whenever I post a new one…oddly, I don’t get a lot of viewers referred from Tumblr. Actually, most of my followers don’t really look like reading is their finest skill.
So, this is what we’ve become as a culture, we Americans. I know that’s a sweeping indictment…feel free to take it as serious as any other generalizations: not worth a damn.
But let it percolate and let me know what you think.
It’s not just Kardashian mentality around success or fame – or both – essentially being a birthright. It bleeds over into other arenas of what we believe the world owes us.
There are so many special interest groups nowadays that I honestly don’t know what’s legit and what’s bullshit…but too many people I come across are telling me that I owe them something.
Back during the run up to the disasterous election, I was accused on the Facebook of man-splaining and kind of made to feel like a dick for agreeing with 95% of what my friend posted. My mistake was having the – ahem – balls to explain why I didn’t agree with only a portion of her post. Instead of engaging in a dialogue about whatever the issue was, she chose to lash out at the idea that I’d state my difference and actually provide context as to why I held that position.
Man-splaining. Please. I left that in her court and just chalked it up to having no idea where she was coming from mentally when she wrote her post.
Does this stop me from engaging in conversation with these special interest groups when I think I have something I can contribute from my own history?
I’m a giver?
Let’s go with that.
But seriously, I banged my head against some pretty solid walls as I was finding my way and my voice as a gay man. Surely, there’s some transferable experiences.
I have quite a few trans friends. I’m not super close with most of them; some because of geography, others because we just aren’t that close. However, when a friend recently complained on Facebook about how tired she was – goddamnit! HE! – how tired he was of correcting people on his gender identity, I helpfully piped up with a dose of empathy and a reminder from a conversation we’d had earlier about his message getting lost in what could be perceived by the listener as an attack tone.
Naturally, I got attacked.
He didn’t come after me so much as a few of his friends did, which is always nice. Especially when their self-bias is easier to see in their words than their disdain for me…who was just trying to help. For his part, my friend acknowledged that if we were hanging out, having this same conversation over a few beers that he wouldn’t have cared. But in that moment. In Facebook-land, all he’d wanted was the sympathy of people going through the same struggles he was.
Fuck me for not knowing that…
But the cool thing is that his friends kept up the Xtopher-bashing for a full day. The offensive things they said were just…well, I think they would be what you’d call radicalized. In my experience – with ActUp – radicalized activists have a pretty limited use. A great hammer when you need one, but terrible in a situation that calls for a feather touch.
Of course, the irony here is that I’m blaming OJ and the rise of the Kardashians for where we are as a frivolous culture today and linking that entitlement to special interest groups like trans-people. Quite by accident, that opinion of mine intersects with the reality that the matriarch of the Kardashian klan married Bruce Jenner, who rather publicly divorced her and transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner.Because that’s how my life works.
The most hurtful line of that trans-attack was cursing me for calling myself an ally to trans-people. That one really hurt me, even though I know differently in my heart.
It turns out that the disadvantage of being an ally to any of these groups is that there are many times they don’t know where to point their frustrations. That or they’re practicing their arguments on a friend.
In war, that’s called friendly fire.
In elections, it explains how we end up with a President that I don’t think can read any better than he can control his fragile-ego-fueled anger.
In reality, Robert Kardashian and Johnny Cochran are dead, so I’ve got no chance of having a Dream Team on deck to defend against misdirected ire.
Nor do I have the inclination to do so. When someone wants to act like I owe them something…well, I’ll try to dig deep for some empathy. But, most often the gift I want to give these people is my absence. Then again, I’m just a grumpy old man!
Or we could just say it’s all because we dug our heels in on an empirical measurement system…
Good lord. Did I say anything useful or remotely cogent in this blog?!?
Ok, I was still knocking this around on my way to the Max this morning when this thought occurred to me:
America + the metric system = a country that “thinks” more like 193 of the 196 countries on the planet.
America – OJ = a people reminded that there are consequences of one’s actions in a country without the Kardashians.
America – the Kardashians = so many possible positives…let’s go with: a culture where reality TV “stardom” doesn’t override actual accomplishments and contribution to society.
But most importantly:
The Kardashians – fame (notoriety) = Trump never getting his own reality show.
That would probably mean that Duck Dynasty never happened. That results in *that* vote that felt left behind in America today living with the knowledge that America is a country where striving to improve and advance is the norm. Choosing to live outside that norm is their choice but without the celebration of stupid that reality TV has become to encourage them, the vote to drag America back to 1917 fails.
That’s a lot to pin on the transitive property, but that’s some math I can get behind!