America - Land of the Dum #3: Dance, Monkey, Dance
Note: This blog post is the third and final in a series of posts exploring America's downward spiral into stupidity that will attempt to explain how we went from the country that invented radiocarbon dating, chemotherapy, and the internet to a country that thinks toilet paper is the most important resource for surviving a global pandemic.
Check out Part #2 - iDum-E right here.
“Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn't watching. He's singing and dancing. He's pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother's busy holding your attention every moment you're awake. He's making sure you're always distracted. He's making sure you're fully absorbed. He's making sure your imagination withers. Until it's as useful as your appendix. He's making sure your attention is always filled. And this being fed, it's worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what's in your mind. With everyone's imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.” - Chuck Palahniuk "Lullaby"
Remember when people were appalled by how few Americans voted in national elections or cared about politics in general? Celebrities started voting initiatives like "Rock the Vote" and P. Diddy's unnecessarily aggressive "Vote or Die" campaigns to convince people to get off their sofas and vote. The truth is that many Americans just weren't that interested in politics.
Man ... we should have left those people on their sofas.
Technology has given birth to a culture of non-stop entertainment. In most pockets lives a device capable of delivering a non-stop tsunami of music, televisions, movies, games, gossip, and social media connections. Entertainment used to be part of our lives. Now it is our lives. It's become a drug. It numbs our pain, distracts us from our mundane lives, and we need more, more, more! There's no time for quiet self-reflection or reading books or getting lost in thought. Entertain me! Dance, monkey, dance!
Our collective addiction to entertainment has seeped into every facet of our lives and rotted away at things that should be taken seriously ... including politics.
Before 2015, stupid people didn't pay attention to politics because they were too boring.
Enter Donald Trump, a man who was best known for his weird hair and firing people on a reality television show. Trump gave rise to politainment and the world is still suffering from the aftermath.
Love him or hate him, Trump did what no other politician before him could do: He made politics entertaining. He was a savior to some, a villain to others, but no matter how you felt bout him, everyone was paying attention. For the first time, stupid people started paying attention to politics. Trump connected with these people. He spoke in simple, single-syllable words and catchy slogans that were easy to chant (stupid people love to chant). He wore a dumb hat and ran on a platform that consisted of ridiculous super villain ideas that stupid people often discussed in their backyards with their friends over a six-pack ("Let's build a giant wall to keep all them Mexicans out!").
For the first time, there was someone saying stupid things on a national stage as if they were totally reasonable and not-at-all racist. In a memorable scene in Nevada, Trump proudly proclaimed at a press conference, "I love the poorly educated!" and people cheered ... they cheered their own stupidity. Stupid had gone mainstream.
For four years, the national political scene was a never-ending episode of Jerry Springer. As entertaining as it was, it turned out to be not-so-great when a global pandemic came rolling into town that needed to be taken very, very seriously.
But the seed of stupidity only grew from there. Facts are lame! The truth is boring! Let's spice it up a bit! Hillary Clinton isn't some boring old woman. Now she's a reptile woman who runs a pedophile ring and feeds on the adrenochromes of babies! A miracle vaccine not good enough for you? Now it contains nanobots that makes you Bill Gate's slave! And when you don't like how the season finale of the show plays out, you just ignore it and pretend the thing you wanted to happen happened instead ... even though it totally didn't!
In the words of Maximus from the movie, Gladiator, "Are you not entertained? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!"
If you're looking to see where all this stupidity ends, check out my dystopian comedy Trumptopia! The United States of Walmart. You can buy your copy here.