Watching the primaries I can’t help but ask the question, who or what is America? Listening to the candidates speeches I’m guessing they know their audience. Our candidates are playing to our lowest common denominator.
I guess that’s not too surprising. As a nation we’ve lost our identity. It’s not really anyone’s fault. We’ve just grown from 179 million in 1960 to 300 million today. We lose of sense of community when our cities reach a certain high density. That one degree of separation grows into two or three degrees. No one knows anyone else. (Except for Kevin Bacon.) In small towns everyone knows your business, but you can live virtually invisible in a big city now. You can be who you want to be. Is that loss of community what sends people to churches?
Ferocity of our differences leaves me like a deer in the headlights. It’s like watching newsreels from WWI. I don’t know what to think watching young men jump out from their perfectly safe trenches into a hail a bullets. What? Why? I can’t wrap my head around it, but there it is.
Can we define America by its desires?
For instance, if you head down to the San Fernando Valley in California, you’ll find a culture a bit different from the rest of the nation. It’s better know as “San Pornando Valley” or “Silicone Valley.” I recently watched a documentary called “The Girl Next Door.” It’s the story of Stacy Valentine – a porn star. It gives a frank depiction of her life – the camera follows her around on her daily routine. To her credit, she’s a hard worker. 9 to 5, all day, five days a week. She meets a scuzzy boyfriend and later in the documentary they break up. Her day job doesn’t seem unusual or otherwise affect her badly. It only gets odd during the AVN (Adult Video News) awards. Stacy has worked hard, very hard, all year and she’s nominated for an award in several categories. Unfortunately, the AVN committee hands out nominations like payback on some previous sexual favor and the judges have been horny. Stacy is only one out about twenty girls in every category.
Stacy gets all dressed up. She invites her parents to the award show. They couldn’t be happier for her. She loses in all categories, and has a nice little cry on her way home in the limo she has rented for the occasion. It broke my heart. Still, it was weird. I kept questioning my own emotions. How can I feel bad for a woman that lost the award for Best Double Anal Scene? What do I know? It could of been really sub par double anal sex. Maybe she flubbed a line. So why am I sad for her?
The American Christian is a hard fish to catch, but if you’d like to get a real understanding of who they are look no further than Jesus Camp by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady and Friends of God by Alexandra Pelosi. Wow. These movies scared the shit out me. The word ‘brainwashing’ filled my consciousness. What they do to these kids in Jesus Camp makes Gitmo detainees look like they grew up in a good neighborhood. Muslims don’t know brain-washing like we know brain-washing. We start screwing with their heads before they can talk.
It reaches a special level of sickness in Bible Camp as the ‘Christians’ teach the children to speak in tongues and flop around on the floor as they feel the glory of God’s love. Hallelujah!
Someone needs to get the butterfly net.
Beauty Pageants are like the 8-track tapes of entertainment. (I still get pissed off about being forced to listen to two bad songs so I could listen to the one good song I liked.) I have more respect for the teenagers in Girls Gone Wild than the contestants. At least they were drunk and having a good time when they exposed themselves. Women in beauty pageants are in it for. . well, I’m not sure.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Nevada. If Miss Nevada’s self esteem was water she would die of exposure in the deserts of her home state. But don’t turn the channel. Miss Nevada will be wowing the audience with her terrific trombone playing and then tell us her deep political thoughts regarding world peace.”
At what point does this become any kind of fun? Who watches this stuff?
I freak out when they have those beauty pageants for little girls. We’ve all seen them. They get these girls, sometimes as young as 7 (maybe younger) and dress them up as whores. To be precise, ‘whores’ is the wrong word. What they do is try to make pre-pubescent girls sexually attractive. Why? It’s mostly their moms that are pushing this nonsense. What happened to them that they want to do this to their little girl? When does it make sense?
America the dumb
Just south of Austin, near New Braunfels is the Snake Farm; a roadside attraction rivaled only by “The Thing!” I’m convinced its what happened to the extras from the movie Deliverance after principal photography. Snake Farm has a pretty mouth.
I was there about fifteen years ago and I can’t believe I haven’t gone back. The entrance was a carnival tent awning covering a small booth with no air conditioning. Sitting behind the register, covered in sweat, was a hugely obese man in a wife beaters shirt. Nothing like sweaty man boobs to signal the best in road side attractions. When I tell this story I almost never include the truth, because no one ever believes me. He was digging in his belly button with the end of a tooth brush.
I asked him, “How did the Snake Farm get started?” He got all defensive until I told him I was a screen writer.
That’s when his brother walked up, and they told me this story. I tried my best to remember it, but they were both talking at the same time. Here’s the bare bones of it:
“Well, me and my dad, Bob-Ray, use to just catch snakes to chuck at cars on I-35. Bob-Ray got tired of throwing ‘em at cars, and said we should throw ‘em all in that big pit out back. Bob-Ray is my dad. Not his dad, my dad. Then, Bob-Ray died, my uncle Bob-Ray, not his dad. He died after being bit up by them dag-gum snakes. So, I figured, hey, why don’t I just throw those darn snakes down that pit like Bob-Ray wanted. I was pretty pissed off at them snakes for killin’ Bob-Ray so for the next three years I threw all the snakes down that pit. So many people came by the house to see all those snakes, Jimmy, Bob-Ray’s other son, put up a sign. “See the Snake Farm. Ten cents.” Bob-Ray thought it’d be funny if we said we’s farmin’ the snakes. I didn’t see the harm.”
And there you have it. A legend is born. I’ve already written about the Minute Men in South Texas and my run in with a bunch of them in Eagle Pass. A crazier bunch of drunk fuckers you’ll never meet.
Are we fooling ourselves?
Is the overwhelming majority of Americans actually just those people on COPS and Jerry Springer? Is America the god-fearing sky pilots jabbering into heaven? Is America those godless sodomites in California that make a living through fornication? 56% of Americans believe in UFO’s. 22% believe in a 9/11 conspiracy and I’d rather party with the UFO guys than the Jesus freaks.
Watching the candidates, I think they know who they are playing to. They have correctly judged the American sheeple. In the end it doesn’t really matter. America is all of these things. The ballet continues, the band plays on, and Michael Jackson is building a fifty foot replica of himself in the desert around Las Vegas; complete with laser beams that shoot out of its eyes.
America is lasers shooting out of Michael Jackson’s eyes.