Thoughts on poverty and homelessness in the U.S.A.

Posts tagged ‘decline of the us’

God bless America!… Well, someone should… If not God, then whom?

Whew, that last blog was a mangled mess of verbiage: words tossed together and plopped haphazardly onto a blog like some sort of twisted verbal salad, or like the mishmash on your daddy’s supper plate. “It’s all goin’ in the same stomach,” he used to say as you watched in awe…

Eating that mess is one thing. But having to read it? Well, sorry. Might just go ahead and delete it till I have time to rewrite the darn thing.

I promise you, I wasn’t drunk when I wrote it, nor was I insane. I was, however, mad. Mad as heck…  But that’s a given. Just look at this blog’s title.  But ya’ know…

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow, roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop, and everyone goes, “Awww!”    –Jack Kerouac (No one would write anything like that today and become successful, and that’s fodder for a future blog. He died in 1969, just as freedom as we knew it was on its slow, demoralized way out.)

Anyhow, the previous blog entry does need some serious editing, and perhaps one day I’ll get to it. But, as you’ve probably noticed, the time to edit just isn’t there.  (The time to do just about anything that we aren’t paid for isn’t there for most of us overworked and underpaid Americans these days, is it? Leisure time is virtually nonexistent for most of us these days. And frankly, I think that’s a part of the plan–no leisure time to think, to blog, to write, to ponder the mysteries of the universe or just to hone our typing skills. Certainly, there’s little time for political action, involvement or protest. Everything we do spend time on needs to bring us back some money, or else it just isn’t worth anything, as far as our falling society is concerned (and as far as our landlords, mortgage bankers, bosses, social service workers,  bill collectors, politicians and next-door neighbors are concerned.)

Perhaps what we need is a blessing. Which brings me to this latest blog entry. Is there a God? And would He, could He, please bless us, America? If there were a God, a Higher Power, a force of all that is good, a universal Creator, would he, could he (or she?!) bless the USA?

Uh, no. Apparently not.  And the answer, my friends, comes from a surprising source: Bobcat Goldthwait. A friend of mine once said that she never met a comedian who was not some sort of genius. Goldthwait seems to prove the point.  This oddball comedian  has come out of the closet, as it were, to reveal the  genius behind the weirdness. Who knew?

To wit:

“My name is Frank, but that’s not important. The important question is, ‘Who  are you?’ America has become a cruel and vicious place. We reward the shallowest, dumbest, the meanest and the loudest. We no longer have any common sense of decency, no sense of shame. There’s no right and wrong. The worst qualities in people are looked up to and celebrated. Lying and spreading fear are fine, as long as you make money doing it. We’ve become a nation of slogan-saying, vile-spewing hate mongers. We’ve lost our kindness. We’ve lost our soul.

What have we become? We take the weakest in our society and we hold them up to be ridiculed, laughed at for our sport and entertainment, laughed at to the point where they would literally rather kill themselves than live with us anymore…”

And with that said, Frank goes on a killing spree, slaughtering all the rude, discourteous, ugly Americans he can find.  Oh yeah. He’s a nice guy who does something that’s very much not nice, i.e., killing people who aren’t nice. So his dissatisfaction with the way things are corrupts him. He becomes, in a sense, meaner than the mean people he destroys. But perhaps he’s not really killing them for being mean. Perhaps it’s the stupidity, the dumbed-downedness that really irritates him. In that sense, he is triumphant. He succeeds in killing off some of the dumbest and most irritating people in our society–reality show stars, spoiled, rich brats, etc.

I admit, I didn’t enjoy the violence or the blood and gore but I think it was fitting nevertheless.

In fact, it is ingenious:  a movie about the decline of American culture that uses violence, blood and gore to make its statement, thus reeling in the ugly Americans who thrive on such titillation who will want to see this film but who probably won’t recognize themselves in it.

Actor Joel Murray nailed the role of the soft-spoken, polite, mild-mannered everyman, Frank, so well that I nearly cried when he beseeched his neighbor to please move his car. (The neighbor  repeatedly blocks Frank’s car.) Far from apologetic, the neighbor replies using what has become commonplace American “logic” these days:  “it’s your own fault if you’re a victim of my selfishness and greed.”

“You blocked yourself in, bro'” he says to Frank. Meanwhile, the neighbor’s wife is overheard in the background saying, “Tell him to park his car away from us.”

Frank is already late for work. He likes to park his car in front of his apartment. Finally, the neighbor reluctantly walks toward his car with the intention of moving it but he takes his time, looking over his car to see if there are any scratches on it before moving it out of Frank’s way. He’s also careful to reprimand Frank with, “Dude, you need to leave yourself more room.”  An American flag proudly displays in the man’s front window, just above the a/c and a bumper sticker remembering 911 is on the back of his car. He’s patriotic, proud of his country and the mean-spirited selfishness and greed that have become so much a part of it.

There is, however, some brilliant, thought-provoking dialogue here (Bobcat Goldthwait wrote this?), and that makes me think this movie could never possibly become a hit in the US, though it may develop a loyal cult following. As the film itself suggests, Americans don’t like intellectual discourse. They/We prefer cheap titillation. Instant gratification. Or whatever brings in a buck. Violence, explicit sex, blood and gore, yes. But thought-provoking dialogue? Where’s the remote? Next!

“It’s not nice to laugh at someone who’s not all there. It’s the same type of freak show distraction that comes along every time a mighty empire starts collapsing. I’m done, really. Everything is so cruel now. I just want it all to stop…”

“Nobody talks about anything anymore. They just regurgitate everything they see on TV or hear on the radio, or watch on the web. When was the last time you had a real conversation with someone without somebody texting or looking at a screen or monitor over your head? You know, a conversation about something that wasn’t celebrities, gossips, sports or pop politics? Somethin’ important or somethin’ personal?…”

“Oh I get it, and I am offended, not because I got a problem with bitter, predictable, whiny, millionaire disc jockeys complaining about celebrities or how tough their life is, while I live in an apartment with paper-thin walls next to a couple of Neanderthals who, instead of a baby, decided to give birth to some kind of nocturnal civil defense air raid siren that goes off every f—‘in night like it’s Pearl Harbor. I’m not offended that they act like it’s my responsibility to protect their rights to pick on the weak like pack animals or that we’re supposed to support their freedom of speech when they don’t give a f— about yours or mine.”

Frank is speaking to his coworker who completely misses the intriguing points just raised. Fancying himself as the intellectual know-it-all, the coworker responds to Frank: “So you’re against freedom of speech now? It’s in the Bill of Rights, man.”

Frank patiently takes a moment to restrain himself then begins with:

“I would defend their freedom of speech, if I thought it was in jeopardy. I would defend their freedom of speech to tell uninspired, bigoted, blow job, gay-bashing, racist and rape jokes all under the guise of being edgy, but that’s not the edge. That’s what sells. They couldn’t possibly pander any harder or be more commercially mainstream because this is the ‘Oh no, you didn’t say that!’ generation where a shocking comment has more wit than the truth.

No one has any shame anymore, and we’re supposed to celebrate it. I saw a woman throw a used tampon at another woman last night on network television—a network that bills itself as ‘today’s woman’s channel.’ Kids beat each other blind and post it on youtube. I mean, do you remember when eating rats and maggots on Survivor was shocking? It all seems so quaint now. I’m sure the girls from Two Girls, One cup are gonna have their own dating show on VH1 any day now. I mean, why have a civilization anymore if we are no longer interested in being civilized?”

Oh yes, indeed. Why have a civilization anymore when we are no longer interested (or perhaps capable of) being civilized?

Indeed. Indeed. I would say the only dispute I’d have with the film’s statement would surround the scene in which Frank loses his job. A receptionist of his employer accuses Frank of possible sexual harassment.  (He’d bought her flowers then sent them to her house. She hadn’t given him her address.) I appreciate the moral statement behind the scene. Yes, we as a society are too paranoid. Yes, we need to be more friendly, more loving and forgiving toward one another. Yes, we need to be free to connect with each other again and not be so afraid of others who are trying to connect with us.

Yes, yes, yes!

However…

Sexual harassment is a reality that many women experience. (I wish more men had empathy for women!) I can point to specific situations in my own life when certain men have made the workplace uncomfortable for those of us they found attractive but were unwilling to reciprocate. Basically, if you’re not interested in sleeping with them, some of those guys get vindictive. They’re bullies essentially, and they expect to get what they want. Or else. It’s one more glass ceiling women hit in the workplace. Sleep with that guy! Or at least respond favorably to his advances. Or else.

But as usual, I have my own take on everything I see. Yep, this is why I have no money. I think for myself. I express my own personal opinions. I think outside the box. And, sadly, I live in the USSA, er, the USSR, uh, I mean, the USA. And American society doesn’t like that sort of thing, especially when the thinking comes from us ladies.

No, no, no!

Are you with me, women? If you’re a woman and others think you’re “pretty” or (heavens to Betsy!) “sexy,” some men expect you to be available to them. If you don’t play the role of sex object (using your bod, ala Anna Nicole); if you insist on keeping those clothes on and developing your intellect and/or talent rather than keeping the focus on your, uh, endowments, then you’ll hit that glass ceiling so fast you won’t even know it hit you. (And ouch! That really hurts!) This is especially true if you try to get men to see you as a person and show no interest whatsoever in ever, EVER sleeping with or being fondled by them.

Point is, the receptionist at Frank’s place of work had reason to be a bit standoffish and concerned. Women do deal with stalkers, unfortunately, and violence against women is a reality and a part of our society’s problem.

But the ruthless reaction of Frank’s boss doesn’t make sense. No one talks anything over. There’s no diplomacy nor due process for Frank. He is accused of something and then he’s out–just like that. His coworkers seem happy that he’s being taken away. Dog-eat-doggedness and unhealthy competition is common in most offices these days. Americans have learned to compete with each other, to fight with each other, to fear each other, while at the same time displaying that flag and that ‘Remember 911’ bumper sticker as though the meanness we show each other is somehow negated by those superficial attempts at being a whole, cohesive society of people who truly love and support one another.

Well, I didn’t intend on writing a movie review, but here it is. Great film (except for the violence, though I understand why it is there. Americans won’t go to see it unless there’s plenty of violence.) Well-written. Great dialogue. Intriguing. Glad I got to see it. Maybe you will too?

And here’s hoping Goldthwait will continue to be successful in this country, in spite of his pesky habit of thinking. Perhaps he needs therapy? Ah, but don’t we all…

“god bless america” (lowercase?) was written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait and presented by Darko Entertainment in association with Jerkschool Productions.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/16/bobcat-goldthwait-god-bless-america-movie_n_1519387.html


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