Monday, October 17, 2005

Anger and Arnold

It's a tough thing to realize.
I'm angry almost all the time now.
I feel like people are turning into sheep. No one thinks about anything anymore, they just hear it, accept it, and move on. I know not everyone is that way, but a majority of people are. I had a conversation with a class last week about questioning authority. Yes, I am a teacher, but I believe that students have to question. In order to better learn, they MUST question those who came before them.
I worry that they won't do this, or they won't do it correctly. There's a difference between having an informed opinion and just parroting what someone else said (such as a parent or celebrity).
I worry because one day I will be a father, and I don't want my child growing up in an Orwellian world. Sure, people (heck, even me sometimes) say we're there, but we aren't totally yet. I can question my government and not be arrested (all the time).
I'm angry, because I can't really talk to anyone about the way I feel. Most people just think that I'm overly philosophical or just plain crazy. "Who cares if no one thinks anymore? Doesn't that mean the world will run smoother?" Sure, Ignorance is bliss.
I'm angry, because I can't sleep through the night anymore, and I refuse to take a drug or anything. Honestly, I don't think it would help. I am a very light sleeper, thus when my cat drops his toy on the living room floor (one floor below me) I wake up. It's terrible. My sister thinks my chi is out of balance. I don't know.
When I can't sleep, I do things to occupy my mind. Sometimes it's reading, sometimes it's a puzzle or even cleaning, but sometimes it's watching TV.
A few nights ago, the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, The Running Man, was on late night cable. I honestly hadn't seen it since 1993 (though it came out in 1987).
What's amazing about the film is even though it came out almost 20 years ago, it actually showed where this country would go and may still go.
For those of you who haven't seen the film, this is the plot:
In the year 2017, the world's resources dried up. With nothing left, the governments of the world united to keep everyone under rule. The laws are simple and enforced with an iron fist. There's only one TV station, and it's programming is mostly reality television. The most popular show is
"The Running Man" which has criminals trying to escape "Stalkers" in order to win freedom. It's the only form of entertainment. All other art is censored and banned.
Ben Richards (Arnie) is a former cop put in jail for not following orders during a food riot. After escaping from prison (along with some friends in "The Resistance), Arnie lays low, but is soon caught and given a choice: Either go on the show, or watch your friends do it and die. What choice does he have?
The host of the show, Killian (played by Richard Dawson in a role not to far from real life for him) double-crosses Richards and sends him and his friends into the "Game Zone."
Long story short, Arnie's pals die, he makes it to The Resistance and then broadcasts the truth about the game and life to the world. The film ends with Richards killing Killian using the rocket chairs that send the players into the Game Zone.
Now I know what you're thinking: "An Arnold Schwarzenegger film has insight into our world? You're nuts!"
Let's look at some of the aspects of the film:
Someone controls what you see and hear. Well, that's true. Look beyond, "If it bleeds, it leads," and you will see that our news stations talk about Iraq with music behind it and mass amounts of flippant remarks. It almost desensitizes the viewer.

The same can be said about Reality TV. Are we that far from a show called, "The Most Dangerous Game!" Ted Nugent leads five contestants on a hunt for a homeless man in the backwoods of West Virginia. Who will kill..."The Most Dangerous Game!"
Now all through the film, the host and directors of the show try to down play the fact that Richards is able to kill the Stalkers. They even try to turn him onto their side for ratings. Mark Burnett, the producer of Survivor apparently tells his camera crew, if the person is drowning, film it till the last second, then get someone to try and save them. THAT will sell. The sad part is he's absolutely right. Most of America would watch that. We watch and discuss, because it's not us.
To me, the most fascinating aspect of the audience in the film is how they cheer for the contestants' deaths, but are silent when the Stalkers die. Aren't we the same way? We cheer when the Nazi/Terrorist/bad guy dies in the film or even real life, but when the American/British/Counterterrorist/good guy gets killed, we mourn. Shouldn't all death be sad? Shouldn't we mourn for everyone? Networks use music, light, and every other trick to draw the viewer into that emotion. The Running Man shows this as well. As the show is winding down, they have sad music playing as they remember, "The fallen gladiators. The brave patriots."
The film plays on the Orwellian idea that there's no such thing as a utopia. Rather only distopia. If you get a chance, watch it with that in mind.
Is it a perfect film? Not by any means. This is a film where Mick Fleetwood (yes, THAT Mick Fleetwood) plays the leader of the resistance. You expect him to start banging on drums at any minute.
Richard Dawson chews the scenery, but he also spoofs his own popularity as the host of Family Feud. This was a man who was a little too touchy-feely and a little too-much of a know it all. Anyone who finds him annoying gets their revenge here.
Back to the subject at hand, however.
I'm angry, because I feel like we are slowly but surely turning into those audience members. They tell us, "Boo," and we scream. No questions asked. Is this a recent development? Oh hell no! This has gone on for a long time, but with TV becoming the main medium (say what you will, but more people watch TV than ANYTHING else now), it's becoming easier to control.
I will end with this. I know I have been picking on Christians alot lately. I'm sorry. I work with a few hardcore Christians who like to tell me everyday that I will burn in hell and that God hates me. He might. Who knows? I also have found that in my life, only Christians, not any other religion, have attacked my life choices and friends' life choices. Very vocally. Does this speak for all Christians? Of course not, but where are the ones who step up and say, "Hey that man's choice is his?" and why aren't they around to stop those who aren't acting nicely?
I'm sorry that I have pushed so much, but I'm not sorry for everything I have said. Some of it is true.
Maybe I've turned into the old Worm. Maybe I need to just stop and walk away and say screw it, because the world's not getting better in my view. It's starting to hurt to see how much my students are going to be burdened with, to see how much my child or my neice will be burdened with in the future.
I'm angry, and people just listen to what I say and tell me I'm wrong, or Un-American, or a horrible person.
I'm angry, because the people who read my blog leave me no real feedback except for the negative. You want to know why I write about the hockey games? People respond to it in a positive manner. Hell, they just respond. No one gave me anything about the Smurf poster. Nothing. How can you not have an opinion? Everyone is now a pundit.
I'm angry, because I feel like I work my ass off in the classroom, on my blog, and in life and it gets me nowhere.
I'm angry, because I just don't see the point of it all anymore. The light at the end of the tunnel is the #4 train coming to hit me.
I'm angry, because in a world full of sheep, I feel like a goat.
I'm angry, and I just don't know how to stop it.
Of course what do I know? I'm just a meaningless speck on the window of the universe. I could be wrong.


Admin Worm said...

Wow. Brutally honest.

I won't pat you on the head and say "There there," 'cuz I know the feeling.

Look up in the sky, Leab. We're the sole planet harboring life in the known Universe. And tonight, millions of people will be glued to the television watching the latest hijinks on "According to Jim."

Faith said...

Try and cheer up Leab! I LOVE reading your blogs, I just do not always have the time to respond. And sometimes I just fall back on my natural instinct NOT to be confrontational. I try to avoid confrontation whenever I can. Funny how I hate confrontation and fights, but LOVE hockey and football...
Hang in there, I know how tough it is sometimes...

Anonymous said...

where would the 'ol bt be without ironic teachings? har dee har har

Voix said...

I can relate to the anger, but the truth of the matter is that I don't have time to read every post out there that I might find interesting.

Loved the Running Man, it was a great book, too.

Keep the anger, but don't judge the non-responding, non-thinking sheep too harshly. Maybe they're thinking about something else.

Keep kicking ass, people will eventually notice. It is hard to be insignificant but worth the self-acceptance.

Leab said...

Worm: I know you're being funny, but the sad truth is that you're right. Instead of looking at the problems, they will ignore them all.
Faith: It's not just the responding. I find it interesting that a lot of people latched on to that. No, it's more the quality of them. There seems to be a lot of hate, but as the Beatles said, "the love you make is equal to the love you take."
Greta: You'd be fine. You've been so far.
Michele: It's not that they're responding to me that brings the anger. No, it's not questioning anything. It's the not wanting to expand their minds. I know not everyone is that way, but it's starting to feel like it.

eugene said...

Did you see the movie "Demolition Man ?" If you haven't seen it, I recommend that you rent it. It's really amazing how they envisioned our future.

Admin Worm said...

Leab, sadly I wasn't kidding.

We get one life, and the ways we spend it (me VERY much included) flabbergasts me.

I drove to work two days ago with a partially-elipsed moon on the horizon the whole time. Anyone who witnessed that should burn...their...goddamned...television.

Leab, take heart that there have been perilously few "thinkers" in history, but they've instigated all the meaningful changes. There was one Mother Leab...and millions of sheep whose names have been long forgotten.