Life of Brian: The Unbearable Lightness of American Being

One thing I always wonder about: when did the people who consider themselves hip start to worry about what the hell was on television? When did they begin to write long, earnest disquisitions about the box set of some TV show? When did they start to dig deep into the philosophical and sociocultural implications of what a TV news anchor — a professional liar by trade — says about himself …. or anything?

I guess I’m too old to understand. I’m not pretending I hung around with Ginsberg and Burroughs or anything, but I do remember very well a time when anyone who thought of themselves as anti-establishment — even to the slightest degree, even while they worked in an office or in a factory or anywhere else to get a paycheck to keep body and soul together — would not have even known what television series was playing or what anchorman was spewing conventional wisdom on network, corporate-owned TV. And, more to the point, they would not have even cared about such things, or expected to find any kind of meaning or insight there.

Yet it seems today that 95 percent of the so-called ‘dissident’ or ‘counter-cultural’ media spends 95 percent of its time discussing the deep political/social/cultural ramifications of Game of Thrones or Girls or The Wire or whatever. There are also yards — acres — square miles — of print and pixels given over to the latest scandal or stance or political leaning of whatever witless, vapid talking head happens to be fronting this or that corporate-sponsored news show.

The latest, of course, is the bullshit about Brian Williams. Oh, what does this say about our media, our culture, etc., etc.? It doesn’t say anything. It says that Williams, like every other person in our ridiculous and pathetic public life, gilds the lily whenever he can to make himself look good. So fucking what? Is there anyone with half or even a quarter of a brain who has ever, for a single moment of their lives, given one iota of thought or concern to Brian Williams and his “integrity”? What could that possibly matter to anyone even marginally concerned with reality?

For god’s sake, Ronald Reagan spent decades — decades — telling the most bald-faced lies about “liberating” Nazi death camps during WWII, when in actuality he spent the entire war parked on his well-paid, comfortable ass in Hollywood. And what happened to him? He became president of the whole freaking United States for eight years, and is now regarded as such an icon of moral virtue that thousands of people spend their days trying to make sure that every state and every county in the Union has some kind of facility or statue or dog pound named after him.

Again, it’s probably because I’m too old. It’s probably because I grew up in a time when anyone associated with national power structures and elites were considered sinister jokes and ludicrous non-entities, worthless suits of clothes, who should be resisted, yes — but who should never, ever be taken seriously. Yet today — OK, let us, like the New York Times, sit on the ground and tell sad stories of the hiatuses taken by warmongering, military-worshipping, bullshit-peddling NBC anchormen.

Jesus Christ Almighty, what a country. What a culture.