Sunday, January 1, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR -- TO SEX, BLOOD, AND ROCK 'N ROLL!

Depending on your point of view, the year 2012 will be a year, a) like any other, b) whatever you can make of it, or, c) the year the world ends. While little has been discussed by the media about the first two points, much has been bantered about by the third. And if you are to believe what the so-called “experts” think, then you will also know what the ancient Mayan long-count calendar suggests by its running out – December 21, 2012 will be doomsday.

In the January/February 2011 issue of ATLANTIS RISING magazine, publisher J. Douglas Kenyon encapsulates the collective consciousness of “end-times angst” by explaining:

“The persistence of the [doomsday prediction] phenomenon seems itself to be symptomatic of a deep-seated, society-wide anxiety mechanism, and there are those that argue that such fear of cataclysmic destruction is itself the product of a materialistic culture which has lost contact with its source and, thus, in the guilty fear of having offended its parent, now, tragically – albeit subconsciously – seeks it own destruction.”

Ironically, this seems to me to sound not unlike the apologists who are springing up like weeds, with the notion that the United States should not only minimize, but abandon altogether its power and influence in the greater civilized world.

At the expense at coming across as bellicose, it appears like more and more people (don’t hyperventilate here – I'm saying more, not all) are walking around, dosed up on irrational and obtuse ideas as a result of having formed their overall (albeit quotidian) opinions regarding morals, culture, government, money and other elements of the fabric that makes up civilized society, by the seductively sweet artifice of pop culture. Nurturing a mindset and a philosophy by feeding mainly from the plentiful mother’s milk supplied by Ellison’s Glass Teat and other popular media leads the way to an absurd equivalency that is tenuous at best and carries with it the pervasive taint of ignorance.

Examples of this “phenomenon of guilt” are omnipresent: Just watch any of the multitude of reality TV shows (which have become so numerous that parentheses are no longer needed around the term “reality”) to learn your social graces, or just take a look at any of the music videos for the latest in dress codes and de rigueur fashion, or take a look at any video game for a heaping measure of sex, blood, and rock ‘n roll. These info streams, pipelined straight to the brain via wireless remote and hypodermic HDMI have already become the roadmap of the new reality. So, here’s a message to all you conspiracy theorists: the real New Order is not the World Bank, it’s not the Illuminati, and it’s not Sarah Palin – pleased to meet you -- it has been going by the name of Pop Culture for a long time.

From a historical perspective, this type of collective behavior always seems to coincide with mankind’s great advances. We are in the midst of a digital revolution – the last example that comes to mind was the industrialization of Europe and the United States, and it drove a good many people literally into the arms of Morpheus (in one form or another) so that they could escape the impending doom of the mechanized monster called “Progress”.

I grew up in Southern California, not far from some of the most well-known beaches, tourist spots, and destinations in the world. As a result, I can’t say I had it all bad. My Christmas list was most always filled, and I had plenty of comics to read and TV to watch. I remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in Elementary School, I remember the occasional “drop drill”, just in case the Commies bombed us with nukes, and I remember when my teacher told our class that President Kennedy had been assassinated – we had to put our heads down on our desk in mourning.

Now, I’m no stranger to end-time angst. In my teens (which would have put the date in the mid-to-late-1960’s) I can’t tell you how many times that an eschatologist (usually self-professed, or promoted by a small group of glaze-eyed acolytes with looks not unlike those that were about to be released in a movie called NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) found themselves in the news, proclaiming that the “end is near”. This boy-who-cried-wolf hue and cry became so pedantic that you began to see many magazine and newspaper cartoons lampooning the phony pop culture phrase. There even appeared a poster of a map showing exactly how the San Andreas Fault was going to split and send half of California plunging into the Pacific Ocean.

Well, the last time I looked, California is still whole, land-wise anyway. One thing is for certain – the end will come sometime. And if we listen closely enough, it’s still coming soon, just like it was 40-plus years ago. I’ve had to rotate my dehydrated survival food several times now, but I know I’ll be ready when the time comes.

Come to think of it, though, we monster lovers have seen the world end – as a matter of fact, many times over, haven’t we? We’ve seen Godzilla tear up Tokyo and a giant octopus rip up bridges, and aliens land on earth and immediately lay waste to the countryside, haven’t we? In my book, that gives us a distinct advantage over the rest of the population. And that might be just enough of an edge to keep us alive and watching our favorite monster movies on Ellison’s Glass Teat, right? Let’s see . . . let’s start off with Vincent Price in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH – or, how about Charlton Heston in PLANET OF THE APES, or . . .

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