Facebook isn’t just “a bunch of people sharing pictures and the minutiae of their lives”, as was put to me recently. There is also a plethora of groups, some good… some not-so-good… some exceptional. Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write Group is one such group that falls in that last category… exceptional. I am proud to be a part of Vicki’s group, even though my contributions to the group are… few and far between? Still, I very much enjoy the group and reading the posts and interviews of Vicki’s ‘Wominz’… and longing, at times, to live in Southern California so that I might attend some of the events.
One of the group’s members, Joanna Folino, recently shared the link to, and commented on, American playwright John Steppling’s blog post ‘From The Last Wave To Witness’. Both Joanna’s comments and Mr. Steppling’s column were very thought-provoking. I don’t think I can say it any better, so I would like to share a few of Joanna’s words on ‘From The Last Wave To Witness’ –
“Intelligent and provocative blog from an American playwright living and working abroad – John Steppling. This one is all about film and why we react positively in America to some films/tv shows and not others. Not definitive answers but thought provoking. My personal take on this question is “it’s all about reassuring Americans that the way we are in the world (aggressive, controlling and self serving) is acceptable because we are an empire and we are “the greatest nation in the world with no social economic classes that stratify us”. In other words: fantasy.”
Fantasy is exactly right. 9/11 seems to have taught America nothing… it continues on believing that it is ‘the greatest nation on the Earth’ and that all others must bow to the will of American ‘democracy’. “Aggressive, controlling and self-serving” are all qualities that describe a dictator, and that is what America does… dictates its will on the world. And American film, by and large, portrays it in such a way as to make America seem as the world’s ‘benefactor’.
One expects this ‘pap’ from the studios in ‘bed’ with corporate America and its fascist leanings, but it is sad and disheartening to see so-called ‘independents’ cowing to that ‘party line’.
Contrary to the not-so-subtle messages in American film, America is rife with socio-economic classes [and the prejudices that go with them] that stratify and segregate society. It is just that American television and film has blinded America to that fact. It really is a sort of mind control.
Two American television shows that Mr. Steppling mentions, The Sopranos and Mad Men, illustrate, quite unapologetically, the existence of socio-economic classes… and do it in such a manner that we actually envy the characters in those shows and attempt to emulate them. How twisted is that? Oh, but it’s okay, because we’re ‘#1’, right? And being ‘#1’, we don’t have to apologize for our greed and selfishness.
The theme of The Sopranos is that power… raw, naked power… is all important and the means by which that power is achieved is less important than the achievement of power. Something America has become quite proficient at.
Does art imitate life… or does life imitate art?
The other show, Mad Men, epitomizes the fucking of America. Can I say fucking here? I guess so… I just did.
One generation of Americans grew up on shows like Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. How did we go from that to shows such as Breaking Bad and Jersey Shore?
Is it that we have seen the ‘emperor’ without his clothes… and we are ‘okay’ with that?
Lest one think that I am anti-American, let me say this –
As a naturalized citizen, I love America… it has been my home. Only…
I am not ‘okay’ with the ‘emperor’ parading around naked.
I am not ‘okay’ with the dishonour… the lack of respect… for self and others.
I am not ‘okay’ with the apathy in America… the decline in the sense of values.
I am not ‘okay’ with the moral abrogation of those in positions of power and influence… the sense of entitlement of a few over the many.
The ‘me-ism’ of America, I fear, may be its downfall.
Muhammad Ali may have been ‘the greatest’… America is not; not by a far reach. We need to accept that we have a moral and ethical responsibility, as does every citizen of man, to the betterment of society as a whole… not just our little ‘corner of the world’. Classes and prejudices [which American cinema and television propagandizes] have no place in an enlightened society.
Political and socio-economic structures are a construct of man. Man has an obligation to tend them well and ensure equality for all.
We need to not glorify the suffering of man.
© 2012 – Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw. All Rights Reserved.