In the past year, I’ve had a heavy realization. Despite my ambitious dreams, big ideas, and love for sensible policy, I might never run for public office. There’s just nothing in it for the good guys. Superman is fictional. Santa Claus isn’t real. Obama is only human. And the Kennedys are dead. We all lose.
Come here, I have something to show you.
1a) In 2010, Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino (shown at right, slack-jawed and showing his nipples) will net $5 million for coining catch phrases, having a social life, and going to the gym.
1b) President Obama, who you might remember is President of the United States of America, is pulling in a salary of $400,000.
2a) Bristol Palin, who sucks at dancing as much as she does at preventing unplanned pregnancy, will boost the already astronomical ratings of Dancing with Stars. Shows with talentless hacks, who can’t make a name for themselves without the assistance of a bristly British judge, will continue to dominate primetime slots.
2b) Scripted network programming, which takes actual talent, forethought, and writing, will dwindle in airtime and funding. My prediction? Soon, there will be a show where hedgehogs crawl silently (but adorably! in 3D!) at the bottom of your screen while six fat Americans complain on treadmills, ten year-olds blow up balloons, competitors autotune while dancing with celebs, and some pre-hoochie from the Disney Channel hiccups for the camera. BOOM! I’m a goddamn genius.
3a) Tina Fey, who writes, performs, and shines more brilliantly than anyone in the entertainment business, will wage a valiant stand in the dying craft of sitcom. The Emmy-winning and critically acclaimed 30 Rock will muster only 5.5-8 million viewers and rank somewhere around #80 to 100 in ratings.
3b) Two and a Half Men, the formulaic abomination headlined by an unattractive, unfunny, and otherwise unredeeming cast and will crack the top 20 in ratings and have double to triple the viewers of 30 Rock. The show’s writers will continue to play the broken record of cheap punchlines. See algorithm below:
Setup setup setup — FAT KID ZINGER!
Setup setup setup –CHARLIE SHEEN!
Setup setup setup — FAT KID!
Setup setup setup — CHARLIE SHEEN!
The only thing unpredictable about this show is whether Charlie Sheen will be arrested for abusing women, drugs, or alcohol this year. You never can tell with that guy, can you!?
4b) The face of President Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery and saved the Union only to get assassinated by a struggling actor, is found on the penny, which you didn’t care fell into the sewer last night. Well, fuck you very much. Sure he’s also on the $5 bill, but I pretty much only use fivers to get quarters for Big Buck Hunter.
5a) Marion Barry, whose list of egregious offenses includes all of the following: (1) Perjury, (2) Failure to file/pay taxes, (3) Stalking, and (4) Crack cocaine use and possession, was reelected from 1979-1991 and then again in 1995. He continues to serve on the City Council and as the inspiration for dioramas in the Washington Post’s annual Peep Contest, instead of jail time.
5b) Adrian Fenty, incumbent Mayor of DC who (1) fostered investment in the city even during an economic collapse, (2) made the tough and politically risky decision of taking on the educational establishment (in the city that spends the most per pupil with the lowest achievement results), and (3) has abs like this, lost the Democratic primary just over a week ago. Apparently, voters need hugs instead of effective governance.
5a) The PBS News Hour, a program that presents actual news with actual analysis, continues to roll along unnoticed. It also lives up to its beautifully simple standards for journalism, articulated here.
5b) The audiences and die-hard followers of Glenn Beck, Jim Cramer, Keith Olbermann, and their ilk have increased and hardened. Bright colors, gimmicks, noisemakers, ominous sounds, and scare tactics have cornered the market on “news,” which has been commoditized beyond recognition.
This list doesn’t even mention how phys ed is no longer required in most K-12 schools, how precariously the financial sector has been set up, the disgrace that is our food industry, the emotional and physical frailty of this generation of children, HIV/AIDS, or the KFC Double-Down. And while I am not usually so swallowed by woe, I want to make it clear that I really am worried. And confused.
If you’re able to read from the kneeling position and through the pooling tears in your eyes, then you probably are burdened with the same curse that befalls me. Enlightenment.
My point is this: the world is an irrational place and it offers almost no safe haven for little rational robots who make good decisions. And it makes me want to shave my head and join a monastery or a hip-hop dance troop. Or at least write additional curses in my f*cking blog. But then I don’t do those things because I am a little rational robot who makes good decisions. I am vexed by reasoned thought.
I see these things and wonder what’s broken. How is this happening? Doesn’t everyone see this? Doesn’t anyone care? How are we, collectively, pretending this isn’t happening?
Because you know what else will happen? Most Americans will keep getting fat. Some will undergo procedures or take pills that make them thin or still allow them to eat the same foods that ruined their health from the outset. Americans will continue to complain about the cost of healthcare system and argue over who pays, instead of — and not in concert with — looking at their own habits that cause the health problems and skyrocketing costs.
America will continue to underperform relative to peer nations in math, science, and reading. Some will complain about outsourcing, the amount of goods we import, and the jobs America lost after the economy tanked in 2008. Then, though unemployed, many will be too skilled or educated to make a living through manual labor, while demanding low cost produce. Those same people will believe immigrants are a drain on the economy. They also mock people (minorities) on welfare while collecting their unemployment checks.
None of these things are related. There is no pattern. These events occur independent of each other. There is no butterfly effect. Life is a vacuum. It’s not your responsibility.