The Pig’s Arms delights in the return of Neville Cole !
Queen Victoria once famously said “we are not amused” and for the first time in my life I can identify with that humorless old bitch. This past year has torn out my funny bone and stomped it to dust. I swear to god, Mad Max Fury Road is beginning to feel less and less apocalyptic and more and more like a best-case scenario for mankind.
A year ago, I’ll admit, there was still an aging anarchist inside me screaming: “Bring it on! How bad could Trump be? This shit is going to be hilarious!” But, like a lifelong atheist facing certain death, I’m starting to have second thoughts.
I think my affliction began in earnest after I re-read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. I’m here to say: that book is not fun. It’s just…not. In fact, it’s even more of punch to the kidneys today than it was 30 years ago when it was first published.
These days the things Postman says in Amusing Ourselves to Death don’t so much make you think as jump off the page, grab you by the throat, and beat you into submission.
Consider one of the book’s main themes…
Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular discourse.
If you have any doubt that this has happened. Well, let me introduce to you to a little thing we call “the internets.” Folks, we are living in the Golden Age of Show Business.
Some of Postman’s other concerns seem quaint in comparison to our brave new reality.
In AOTD for example, Postman reveals his horror that “the President of the United States is a former movie actor.” Damn! Who among us wouldn’t welcome Ol’ Ronnie back to the White House today with big old bag of jelly bellys* Honest Ronnie! We don’t care if you facilitate the sale of arms to the whole Middle East! Just come back and save us, please! We are begging you!
Hmm… Come to think of it. Seems like he had a point. Maybe we should have been more concerned back then.
After all, one of Postman’s big concerns was that Reagan was a celebrity. He felt that “the politician as celebrity has made political parties irrelevant.” Yeah, just ask the Republican Party about that one. Hey Fellas! You’re Fired!
By the way, does it not seem conceivable that elections could soon be broadcast reality show? Oh! I wonder who with get the Presidential Rose tonight! The way I see it, pretty soon ONLY celebrities will run for elected office. Who else is going to be able to compete?
I could go on and on about how much worse things have got since AOTD was published.
For example, at one point Postman notes bitterly that: public discourse has become dangerous nonsense. Hoo boy! Do you think in his wildest dreams he ever imagined a Trump Policy Speech? Or the comments section of your local digital rag? Or Twitter, for christsakes!
But, you know, all this said, I can’t say I blame people for not being better informed. I’ve tried… and it’s damn, hard work.
Disinformation is the new norm and sorting truth from bullshit is damn near impossible; especially in a world where facts are irrelevant.
If you, like me, have tried to follow the press following Trump; it is obvious they have given up. There are so many distortions they start every report with a general disclaimer: Everything this guy says is a complete and utter lie. Then they try and pretend they are still reporting news. It is exhausting. For all of us. At a certain point you just have to get up and shut it off. And believe me, I’m not trying to pretend Hillary is all that different. It’s just that Trump has taken this whole dance into a different dimension. This is some historic crazy people.
And you know what? We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore! I see it everywhere. People are turning off and tuning out. They are no longer amused.
Jon Stewart famously left The Daily Show because of what he termed “bullshit mountain”. He explained that he just had to leave because “Watching these channels all day is incredibly depressing. I live in a constant state of depression,” he said. “I think of us as turd miners. I put on my helmet, I go and mine turds, hopefully I don’t get turd lung disease.”
You know, I think my whole point is… I know exactly how he feels and I am not amused. God help me, I am not amused.
*In case you weren’t aware, Jelly Bellys were Reagan’s all time favorite candy.