Many Americans are experiencing a nearly constant state of low-level emotional tension. As a consequence of this, a significant number of us are taking one or more of the serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) family of drugs, which includes Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Paxil (paroxetine)—not to mention a host of other psych meds. It’s been said that understanding the basis of the psychosis is the first step to curing it, so let me take away the pain.
Simply stated, the entire civilized world, but especially the Western democracies, is undergoing a massive transformation in culture and economics. Unfortunately, since we are in the very midst of this transition, the new rules have not yet been set. Worse, many of the style makers are still operating under the old rules, which, of course, no longer apply. Can you think of a better recipe for tension?
Consider a few examples…
Performance Enhancing Drugs In Sports
Who cares if athletes are using steroids or any other drug? Why is it all right for a pro football player to take sufficient abuse during his playing career to render himself a virtual cripple upon retirement, and most of the time die quite young, yet it is wrong for him to ingest some chemical?
Two factors are operative here, namely the so-called “War Against Drugs,” and the Grantland Rice myth of the sports hero. Regular readers of this column know how I feel about the stupid and pointless laws against certain drugs, while alcohol, far more destructive than any of them, remains perfectly legal, as do hundreds of far more dangerous prescription drugs of abuse. So, under current rubrics and fashion, sports drugs are just “wrong.”
And, since sports figures must be role models, even though they say they are not, the old rules just can’t tolerate a hero who takes drugs. Somehow, though, the transitional non-rules can tolerate a pro athlete who beats his wife, gets into drunk-driving accidents, and even assaults and kills people.
Being divorced was enough to deny Nelson Rockefeller any hope of garnering the Republican nomination for president in 1964. But, by 1980, this was to prove no impediment at all to Ronald Reagan. By the time Clinton came around in 1992, rampant charges of adultery and even rape did little to quell the enthusiasm of his supporters.
Using roughly the same time line, frequent job changes were a decided negative on a resume, but this morphed into a situation whereby holding the same position for more than 10 years is now a disadvantage.
As to the factors in play here…Feminism forever changed the popular perception of divorce, except that the laws punishing men are still intact. Meanwhile, if a political party or corporation feels that it is to their advantage to bring on someone of questionable repute, no problem. He may be an S.O.B., but he is our S.O.B. Sadly, even after the inevitable bad Karma hits, no one learns anything from the experience, which will be repeated endlessly by new seekers of short-term gain.
Consumer Products And The Work Ethic
The Unions and Pat Buchanan will tell you to buy American, but who wants to pay a higher price? It comes down to this: If prices are low, people will have more income to buy more things, and the economy will grow. Why subsidize the last shirt factory in the US? Should we have subsidized the livery stables and kerosene lamp manufacturers? How about the record companies?
Many complain about the loss of the work ethic, but they are living in the past. We have now two generations of Americans who have never known any need, and, with all the socialistic protections in place, hardly worry about losing a job. Besides, given the incredibly poor performance of many overpaid CEO’s, why should the working stiff break a sweat? How can a work ethic exist in an age of entitlement?
In 1961, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow referred to much of television as a “vast wasteland.” Most would agree that it is even worse today.
Back then, there were few enough media outlets that one could at least argue on behalf of quality as a criterion to determine what gets on the air. These days, though, that cannot apply, given perhaps 500 different channels to fill with content. So much for the old rules.
Ironically, the reverse is true in the music industry, and is the source of all its problems, far beyond file sharing.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s there were many more record companies, and they were mostly making lots of money. Why? There were more releases, and while they had good sales, they were not at the blockbuster level required by the clueless bean counters of the new larger media merger companies of the late 1980’s and beyond. By concentrating on mega-hits only, artist development stalled, content became even more derivative and went into the toilet, with promotion trumping the product.
If you need any convincing, check out the latest Britney Spears releases and videos, that blatantly rip-off Michael Jackson, as she enters the “will disrobe for airplay” phase of her career.
The trick to making it now and beating your anger is to figure out the new rules, before they are officially promulgated by the literati and gliterati. Is this a great country, or what?