Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Sick Dreams of Fevered Minds

I was reading a few of my favorite blogs this week when I stumbled on the news that the LAPD had recently shot an unarmed homeless African-American man.  The trouble for the LAPD is that someone caught the entire incident on video and audio.  The officers involved initially said that the man had a gun; then they said that the man reached for an officer's gun.  I leave it to the reader to tell from the video whether the officers were lying.  (Of course, there's one rather stupid gadfly whom I expect to hear from with a loud, profanity-laden justification of the shooting regardless of what the video shows.  But people are beginning to tune him out.  Maybe I should too.)

To me, the shooting is yet one more evidence of the decompensation of privileged, entitled, narcissistic Anglo-American society.  As I discussed that decompensation with some online acquaintances, I brought up two other pieces of evidence: the movies American Sniper and 50 Shades of Grey.  One of those acquaintances questioned my assertion of a connection between the two movies, and in doing so, forced me to logically analyze what started for me as an intuitive association between the two.

So I wrote, "To me it seems that the U.S. is longing for a return of days in which America was supreme in the world, and in which Americans could dispense with politeness in their dealings with people different from them.  That is no longer the world in which we live, because of the contraction not only of the global economy, but of the American economy.  And starting wars in order to tip the balances in our favor is not working like it used to.  So many formerly privileged people in this country indulge in fantasies of heroic invincibility - as seen in movies like American Sniper, a movie which conveniently ignores the real reasons why the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein, and which romanticizes the killing of over 1 million Iraqi's.  If heroic fantasies of invincibility don't work, there are fantasies of power to obtain any desire one wants - as seen in reactions of many moviegoers to 50 Shades of Grey, who don't see the movie as a warning, but as a legitimization of the deviant desires of the rich and powerful.

"But fantasies alone are not enough for some people, and they are acting out against any targets they can find, in order to convince themselves that they still hold a position of power and privilege over those they consider to be less than themselves.  That's where we see the shootings - especially mass shootings - committed predominately by white males..."

In resposnse, the acquaintance shared with me the Chris Hedges article I linked to at the top of this post.  Hedges sums up both movies quite nicely in this quote: "[50 Shades of Grey], like “American Sniper,” unquestioningly accepts a predatory world where the weak and the vulnerable are objects to exploit while the powerful are narcissistic and violent demigods. It blesses this capitalist hell as natural and good." 

This is the sick society in which we live just now - a society in which most of us are getting poorer due to the contraction of the industrial economy, while the wealthy not only continue to concentrate all remaining wealth into their hands, but also manufacture fevered dreams of continued "unlimited power, success, brilliance," etc. to shove down our throats.  To those who allow themselves to be indoctrinated by such dreams, I'll leave one quote: "But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don’t consume one another." - Galatians 5:15.

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