Do you feel optimistic? That your best days are in front of you? That you will marry your heart’s desire, live comfortably in a mini-mansion and do fulfilling work until a well-earned retirement?
Then chances are your parents were rich and you went to a good school and you’ve leveraged your relationships to get ahead.
But if you weren’t born on third base, if the guidance counselor in your public school was unaware of need-blind admissions, if everybody on your block was a rapper or a sports star or just doing drugs…
You’re probably wondering where your future went.
Used to be the media was on our side. Divining truth, looking out for us. Before Rupert Murdoch bought the “Wall Street Journal” and Judith Miller convinced “New York Times” readers that an Iraq invasion was justified. Now we can’t believe a thing we read.
As for television, Don Henley had it right, the bubble-headed bleached blond making seven figures wanted us to follow car chases, was more interested in the horse race than truth. It was all fun all the time.
Only it wasn’t.
Kind of like this election cycle. I can’t watch another debate, there’s nothing new to be said. Or the candidates don’t want to say it. The media says it’s important but the truth is it sells advertising and there you have it in a nutshell, the media-industrial complex has pulled away from the populace, and now the populace is rebelling.
It happened in music first, with Napster. Artists and executives couldn’t believe the public would steal music. But the public was sick of being ripped off and saw white collar criminals making double digit millions and not ending up behind bars. Why should they be moral? Especially when the media was constantly flaunting the immorality of artists. Money for nothing indeed.
And then the techies scooped up all the chips. This is when the artists got pissed. They could no longer sit at home and make a living, they had to get out and ply the boards, which may sound glamorous but is not, especially when you’re already married, and if you think the musicians take drugs for fun, you’ve never tried to sleep after giving it your all until midnight.
So the musicians hate the techies, who stole their lunch money. And on one hand you can tell them to get with the program, on another you can ask what kind of country are we living in?
Those musicians who do break through play by the new rules. Which is to do anything for cash and to try and chase the billionaires. They want to fly on their planes, if not buy planes themselves. Meanwhile, those at home are supposed to respect these players, as they have in the past.
Forget the prepubescents adoring wet behind the ear singers with little talent. That’s been going on forever. But an entire generation of music lovers, the baby boomers, and to a great extent their Gen-X brethren, have abandoned the scene. Sure, it’s dense and complicated, but there’s nothing that appeals to them, that satiates their souls, that is music for music’s sake. Everybody’s bitching they’re working too hard and can’t get paid.
Just like the rest of America.
But the rich move their corporations overseas to avoid taxes, not knowing there’s no such option for the public.
The entertainment business keeps telling us to partake of their wares when the truth is we’re disconnecting, not only in music, but film. Sure, grosses may be good, but only for a few flicks. We need cultural touchstones, we don’t need much else.
Like cable television or tablets or…
Cord-cutting is real. We’re sick of paying six bucks for ESPN we don’t watch. And why do we need the latest tablet, which is just product envy at best anyway, the old one is just fine. But the truth is the phablet, the large smartphone, is good enough.
And next we’re abandoning cars. Uber is just a start. Whilst boomers purchase six figure automobiles and prance around in their iron (aluminum!) showing off, youngsters don’t even get their licenses, and are looking forward to the days of self-driving cars.
Talk about change.
And it is all about change. We’ll embrace that which is easier and exciting… But we’re sick of being told we are inadequate and to do it the old way, ordained for the benefit of the rich.
Music labels still trumpet sales when streams are everything, and you can’t stop hearing that there’s not enough money in music. But why should the consumer care, he’s struggling too! And why should the consumer believe this, since everything that was nothing turns into a juggernaut, like computers.
The book business killed digital, sealing its fate as a marginal enterprise.
Those at the top want the status quo and those at the bottom are hungry for real leadership, that speaks to them and watches out for them.
But there’s no story to follow. Kanye West is all about himself. Justin Bieber is a nitwit. And reporters want to hang with their subjects, their publications full of hype to make us feel envious of what the subjects have got.
But we know the truth, we can never have what they have, no matter how much we put our noses to the grindstone, opportunities are scarce, the game is rigged. Some of us have given up, the rest of us are hoping for a revolution.
That’s what happens when there’s too much injustice. And the injustice in this case is institutions and groups who want to maintain the status quo to the detriment of the rest of us, and make us pay fealty and become wannabes to boot. You know why Oscar ratings are tanking? NO ONE CARES!
The public needs food and sex and shelter and entertainment.
But it also needs hope.
Right now what we’ve got is mainly false hope. Duplicity. Bait and switch. Envy. And as a result, disillusionment reigns.
That’s the story of Donald Trump, that’s the story of Bernie Sanders. They’re speaking a truth to their constituents that listeners don’t hear elsewhere. It’s thrilling to have politicians looking out for you as opposed to guarded corporatists always plotting to get ahead in the future, benefiting themselves, not caring about anyone else. Mark Zuckerberg tweaks Facebook algorithms for himself, not for you, not even for corporations. But we can’t stop hearing about the triumphant social network.
Sure, there are idiots spinning falsehoods trying to become social media stars. And the media whips out winners to keep us playing the game, as if everyone could win the lottery.
But the truth is the game is rigged and no one is on our side. The artists jettisoned us long ago, when MTV could make them rich, when Napster made it harder to make money. The media is like the musicians, complaining of lost advertising and thinner margins. The websites say we have to endure click-bait to pay their bills. Every entity in America is desperately trying to climb and survive, meanwhile we’re at home out of options.
So when you see the shiny show on TV, when you read about the rich and famous, don’t buy it. Know that there are more just like you, that the power lies with the people, not the corporations.
It’s morning in America, and the entrenched are about to get a huge wake-up call.