Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Where The Voices At?
Just finished watching The U.S. vs. John Lennon.
I kept thinking about my generation, and who might be seen as the cultural, radical, innovative thinkers. Greenday?
With "the medium is the message" distorting sensationalism and creating something out of nothing, there seems to be nothing left in this world that is truly original or groundbreaking. And, when it comes to political spheres and protests and ways in which we react to the Powers That Be...well, you can plan five thousand benefit concerts and it will never- in any way- come close to what The Beatles, and John Lennon in particular, did for political movements in the 1960's and 70's.
My generation appears lazy, jaded, and cathartic. The children of the flower children, and what wars are we fighting? Sure, we're the first to embrace things like recycling, organic living, and green initiatives. But we've also watched so many wars, a ballooning defense budget, and attacks on the right to the pursuit of happiness. Where are the radicals in this country where gay people are denied basic civil rights? Where are the demonstrations and, maybe the more important question, what could anyone possibly do in this day and age to really garner attention?
In the age of YouTube, Facebook, blogspot, and all the other ways we can communicate our hard-earned (albeit certainly not by us) rights to voice our opinions publicly and safely, where's the sensationalism that is required in radical schools of thought? It seems, in this day, you have to drink the Kool Aid or marry a bunch of thirteen-year-old girls or shave your head and come after a paparazzi's van with an umbrella to get any semblance of attention.
John and Yoko spent 7 days of their honeymoon in bed, allowing reporters and filmographers and photographers access to their most intimate of moments. And it was ground-breaking. It was real, it was raw, and there was nothing to hide. They had their message, they had a captive audience, and although we might now look back on their escapades with a decided yawn (you mean they weren't photographed climbing pantiless out of the back of a limo or caught doing lines of cocaine off of an LA club toilet?? How boring.) it was absolutely radical, it was absolutely new, and it was absolutely a media-frenzy. Regardless of whether or not it made a difference (and I think it can be argued that the fact that my generation; some of whom weren't even alive to see Lennon walk the earth let alone bed down with his Japanese wife; has a very visual mental picture of Lennon and Yoko in bed together with flowing hair and white pajamas shows just how permanent sensational media images can be) it was seen and heard and held a presence.
Who's holding a presence now? I would argue that John Stewart and Stephen Colbert have made significant contributions. Maybe Family Guy and The Simpsons. South Park, to a certain extent. But where are the artists? Where are the sensationalists? What could they possibly do that hasn't already been done?
Where are our generation's John and Yoko, fighting back against Rupert Murdoch and ridiculous bigotry and the nauseating reactions to building a center that promotes religious tolerance in the Financial District of New York City? Where are they fighting against the evil of BP, against a government that will leap into action for crises halfway around the world but take five days to send aid to one of our very own cities in an act that, I am more and more convinced, is evidence of the presence of institutionalized racism here in this country? Where are our battle cries, what cards are we burning, and how long do we have to grow our hair before it's anything more than some hipster's idea of a fundraiser?
I wish I knew. I'm just as guilty as anyone else. I'm not eschewing the system; in fact, I'm very much working alongside of it. To be fair, I'm doing so in an effort to enact change and promote advocacy and activism, but honestly I'm not existing outside of any boxes here.
What will the documentaries about our generation look like? Obsessed with ourselves, with our personal growth, with our "journeys," and Facebook and personal achievements? We are the most selfish generation to cross this earth; the most highly-educated and, by far, the stupidest. And, please understand, I in no way credit myself or place myself outside of it. I'm just as enmeshed and embroiled in it as anyone else, but I watch documentaries about anger, about a genuine care for humanity and the art and beauty and innovative thinking that can arise, and I wonder just what the hell we think we are doing.
If Lennon were alive today to see what BP has done, to witness our ridiculous "Operation Freedom" and "Patriot Acts...." what would he say? What would he do?
Where's our John Lennon?