Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I HAVE to feel good...

A friend pointed me at this quote by William Rivers Pitt: I think it hits close to home.
Although we have much to be proud of as Americans, we also have to face the fact that the majority of our citizens somehow believe we can do no wrong. It appears to take a hell of a lot of corruption, lies and plain 'ole incompetence to convince the public otherwise:
Americans, by and large, have a fundamental need to feel like they are part of something great, above the fray and beyond the rest of the world. They are fed American exceptionalism with mother's milk, and will fight like rabid wolverines to avoid being forced to believe otherwise. Anyone mystified by the public support Bush has enjoyed until very recently, despite the endless litany of disasters that have befallen us, can look to this bone-deep need as the main reason for that support. It isn't just about 9/11. Americans need to feel good about America in the same way fish need water. Americans need to believe, and will thrash around like boated marlin if that belief is undercut. That belief serves as a kind of ideological Prozac, shoving bad thoughts to the background.

Iraq. Afghanistan. The continued freedom enjoyed by Osama bin Laden. Katrina. Abu Ghraib. Frist and insider stock trading. DeLay and a handful of indictments. Rove and Libby staring down the barrel of more indictments. Bush's approval ratings are plummeting, and the entire country is beginning to wilt under the depressing reality that we are, in fact, getting screwed with our pants on. Any conceits of moral authority being put forth by the White House and the Republican Party have been washed away in a flood of graft, death, lies and corruption.

Our supply of Prozac is running short. The belief in American excellence so desperately necessary to the mental balance of the populace is being eroded by the hour, and there will be hell to pay because of it


Intellectual Insurgent said...

Someone once told me that you can tell a lot about a culture by the movies. If you look at the American mythos of perfection from the cinematic perspective, you come to see how deeply ingrained the American myth of nobility really is.

Most American movies are presented as a struggle between good and evil, with the good ALWAYS winning. Also, it is always the underdog who is pure godly "good" conquering all odds against the "bad" guys. This sentiment is the undercurrent of every political speech - the triumph of good or evil. The other side is strong, but we have will to defeat them.

The theme of American perfection is the Matrix, Rocky, Seabiscuit, Zorro, Armageddon, Cinderella, Copland, The Mask, Revenge of the Nerds, Pretty In Pink, etc. The national myth is ubiquitous.

Capt. Fogg said...

Brilliant post Rick. You can also tell a lot from the bumper stickers, the flags, the references to God and his special relationship to the USA that are everywhere.

You can tell a lot from the way Cindy Sheehan is portrayed as a traitor - or anyone else who gets in the way of the self worship we call patriotism.