My Boomer generation was reared in front of a tee-vee set. Our view of life on planet Earth (not to mention elsewhere) is framed inside a rectangle of voyeurism.
Movies consisted of a larger rectangle with better sound and cushier seats.
Our tutor in politics and war was a shirt and tie behind a desk with a smaller rectangle behind him. Nuther words...everything was passive and we were merely required to observe.
Sure, there were plenty of activists in the world. Folk singers, auteur film directors, mavericks and die-hard radicals strung out on socialism and dope at the top of their collective voices.
But, that was a relative few. The old guard was weaned out when the studio system died.
The rest of us watched and sometimes were deeply moved to tsk-tsk.
The radicals either became New Age Republicans or died of overdoses and guest appearances on Love Boat.
The Gen-X'ers arrived. What could they rebel against? Only rebellion itself!
The Boomers were the spectators and they begat living spectacles. Or, to be more precise, those intent on making public spectacles of themselves. Self-indulgent narcissistic spastics is what they were. They were churlish enough to cut to the chase without the philosophy of Mao or Marx; they were simply against everything on principle.
Tattoos, body-piercing, cynical anti-anti establismentarians turns nihilism into consumerism and show-off-ism.
And we all live together on the same urban landscape! We watch each other self-destruct for entertainment while decrying the state of mankind.
Truth=the other guy is nuts.
Activism now has mildewed into a soggy two-party system of Self-righteous hypocricy vs anarchic self-indulgence.
When society atrophies from the inside out the "old days" are de facto golden.
Before the glue came unstuck the Tom Brokow generation built something incredible and then smoked and drank itself into suburban doldrums while we children watched our parents quiet desperation and wondered why that view of the American Dream seemed less than ideal.
And speaking of ideal...
That is the job of the filmmaker, the artist, the poet, the singer and the musician; to indulge the rest of us in their vision of a better world than now is; the one that COULD BE if only we'd make it thus.
I watched CASABLANCA last night. Rick Blaine is cyncial and an alcoholic. But, he rises above his malaise to do the "right thing" to make the world a better place. He realizes he doesn't need to sacrifice love or life to do it--he only has to incorporate a larger view of what is valuable into his life and exchange something valuable to achieve it. In other words, this film has a vision that allows an IDEAL through behavior by demonstrating a greater opportunity than mere complaint, destruction or self-destruction.
Blaine isn't a martyr; he learns nobility of purpose instead.
Contrast that to almost any other film shown on the giant movie screen today.
"Keepin' it real" has become a cop-out for no vision of a better world at all, merely an excuse to wallow in the worst of the worst.
The voyeurs among us are passive-aggressive, recessive and wouldn't recognize an IDEAL if they tripped over it on the way to the tattoo parlour.
Art is the beacon, but, the light is dimmed.
Youth wants an expenses paid trip through Candyland at full volume now. The heroes are in rehab and self-sploitation reality shows where they curse out their expletives and wallow in wretched excess on cable tv.
Where is Rick Blaine when you need him?