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Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Fantasy Industrial Complex

I have often wondered why American culture is obsessed with meaningless trivialities - the supposed discrimination against transvestites, transsexuals, cross dressers, and so on. You would think there are millions of them, and many more millions of persecuted homosexuals, and that blacks have made no progress at all in the last 50 years. It's okay for the media to criticize Caucasians for their unfair "white privilege," or to call Republicans "old white men." "Black lives matter," but a young white woman walking in San Francisco with her father gets shot in the back by an illegal alien and it barely gets a mention.

Meanwhile, we're all supposed to be fascinated by the marital ups and downs of Beyonce, Brad and Angelina/Jennifer, Ben and Jennifer, and of course Bruce call me Caitlyn Jenner. Meanwhile, Obama just gave Iran the green light to build nukes and missiles to launch them, and is probably a Muslim and undoubtedly is a Marxist.

I found an article by author Ben Fountain, based on a talk he gave to cadets at the Air Force Academy that I think explains this sorry state of affairs. He calls it the Fantasy Industrial Complex. I quote it here, but encourage you to read the whole article. 

Soldiers on the Fault Line: War, Rhetoric, and Reality

Are we stupid? As Norman Mailer once said, “Stupidity is the American disease,” but I would argue it’s not that simple.
This country has done far too many fine and brilliant things to ascribe the disaster of Iraq to plain stupidity. I would approach it from a different direction and argue that our culture is stupid, and while that doesn’t necessarily make us stupid in the literal sense, it does make us numb. By “culture” I’m talking about the 24-7 force- feed of movies, music, television, Internet, youtubes, youporns, cell phones, iPods, iPads, sports of all kinds at all hours, right-wing news, left-wing news, celebrity news, texts, tweets, emails, and all the rest of it, and that’s even before we get into the numbing effects of the huge array of pharmaceuticals available to us, legal or otherwise.
Cadets, I think this avalanche of electronica, entertainment, and media needs a name, so let me suggest that we call it the Fantasy Industrial Complex.
When you boil it down, it’s pretty clear that the Fantasy Industrial Complex is mostly someone trying to sell us something-a product, a political agenda, a lifestyle, an alleged means to a more beautiful version of ourselves. Or what may be even worse, it’s selling us, our vital statistics in terms of purchasing power and preference, so that we can be targeted by marketers with ever more finely calibrated accuracy.
Thanks to the Fantasy Industrial Complex, I think there’s a strong argument to be made that we often don’t know what’s real anymore. To a signficant extent, our lives take place in the realm of fantasy, triviality, and materialism, and our senses and mental capacity become numbed as a result.
Well, what’s wrong with being numb; with being comfortably numb, as the song says. What’s wrong with being the functional equivalent of fat and happy, of cruising along in the prolonged adolescence that seems to be the ideal human condition as rendered by the Fantasy Industry? Nothing, maybe, until reality comes along and slaps us in the face: the death of someone close to us, say, or serious illness, or extreme emotional suffering-trouble in our marriage, trouble with children, failed relationships, failure or frustration in our work, or a collective trauma such as we experienced on 9-11, 2001. In other words, the hard stuff of life as it’s actually lived.

1 comment:

  1. "Obama just gave Iran the green light to build nukes and missiles to launch them, and is probably a Muslim and undoubtedly is a Marxist."

    I officially give up. People that settle in Kerrville seem to ultimately degenerate through osmosis. First the right brain goes, and then they descend into intellectual purgatory, and die bitter and full of fear. My only feelings are for the disenfranchised that serve as raw material for the government employment / corruption monster. In retrospect, I have wasted too much precious time trying to illuminate a situation that is typical of a small town in Texas. Anybody with any ambition has already left town.