The Secret Shame of an American
I am almost, nearly, completely ashamed to call myself an American.
Part of that comes from the fact that, in the U.S., we’ve completely co-opted a term that covers two continents and many diverse countries for our own selfish use. There are literally over 30 countries in the Americas and most of them are filled with smiling, happy, indigenous people who share the right to call themselves American, although, since this term has forever been tainted worldwide by countless Bermuda shorts wearing, loud, annoying, rude, socially inappropriate, xenophobic and asinine tourists from the U.S. who have been so downright embarrassing as to make your stereotypical German tourists look downright pleasant, I don’t think anyone will be fighting too damn hard to reclaim the already irrevocably smeared name ‘American’.
On top of our greedy and selfish use of the term American, though, is our behavior. We are buffoons: hulking and moronic, fast-food swilling, inbred cousin bumpers who worship the dollar and teach Jesus as science. We are perceived worldwide as dangerous, brainless and fanatical. We are the bully who grew up but never grew up. We’re the aging, ex-college-football-hero gym teacher who beats his wife, who the entire teaching staff knows brings a gun to school but has frightened into silence, who’s slowly waning grasp of reality is discussed in hushed tones in the teachers lounge and who, when they finally cross the line, will be ganged up upon by the very people who once supported them but have gotten so tired of living in fear of the memory of the bully have finally opened their eyes and seen the bully for the sad, pot bellied, bald and impotent sack of shit that he’s let himself become.
Once thing I’ve learned is that I can never live in the south. The southern drawl, which bothered me somewhat when I was younger, has been ruined further by our Fuhrer, I mean President, who affected it after leaving New England, an area about as far north as you can get before you have to buy a toque and better boots. There’s something about an ‘Ozark cockney’ that just screams ignorance to me. I don’t know if it’s because the South fought to keep slavery and still harbors bitter resentment and hardcore racism, or that a lot of the fanatical, evangelical churches which are killing science in this country are holed up there, or if it’s just that I’ve heard it enough over the last few decades coming from the mouths of 90% of the criminals being dragged out of their double-wide in nothing but a dirty wife-beater on episode after episode of our country’s pre-Idol pinnacle of Culture, TV’s action-crime documentary COPS. What I do know is that someone with a thick, chewing-on-a-sock southern accent makes me cringe and little has been shown me to change my opinion.
I was playing Call of Duty again the other day, the game that experts (2 of my other personalities) have described as a ‘Litmus Test of Culture.’ Hoping for a group of Brits (which is always fun, enlightening and at times indecipherable), I instead got a group of good ol’ boys and as hard as it was for me to keep my mouth shut and see the screen around the quickly developing facial tick which was threatening to pop my contact out of my eye like a small discuss, it slowly grew worse as one of the players described that he was just there to teach his son to play, who was already close to winning. This in and of itself isn’t bad enough to provoke me. It’s the fact that his son was 5 years old and yelling insults into the microphone with a just-post-toddler accent, destroying the chances that dad was kidding and irreversibly staining my psyche with even more southern-aimed venom. He didn’t have the vocabulary of your average U.S. 13 year old yet, but it was still disturbing to my precious hearing tubes. More disturbing than that was the father, while yelling out mild insults, was also chastising people who used any ‘curse words’. This guy was actually teaching his son to play a game where you shoot virtual people, throw grenades at virtual people and walk up to any virtual people not ventilated or shredded and knife them, yet he was angry at other players for using bad language. I think you need to get your priorities straight there, Bobby Joe.
There’s the rub. As a country, we have skewed priorities. We are the ultimate consumers, racking up record breaking amounts of debt, meanwhile we teach our budding scholars shit science, little math, no language and skewed history, guaranteeing that our children will be unable to achieve much more than an Assistant Manager position at a Taco Bell after dropping out of Community College. We are grossly fanatical about religions many of which are so obviously scams yet even ‘true’ believers fervently break their faith’s laws if they are inconvenient. We are socially, historically and geographically retarded: our government claims that religious fanatics hate our way of life yet most bombers have been secular, protesting decades of horrible embargoes and occupation from our country. Our history books are filled with lies, exaggerations and political self-aggrandizing. We teach little about the world outside our own borders. Ask a Brit who the top brass is in The U.S. of A., then ask someone from the U.S. who’s the Prime Minister of the UK and see what you get.
The worst part is, I had to look up the PM myself.
We claim to be worried about global problems: global warming, pollution, war, famine, disease. We appear to be more interested in ‘Lost’, ‘American Idol’, ‘Hannah Montanan’ and new spinning rims for our new ’08 Dodge Hugecock. We’ve been sold on pre-made and packaged culture from Kindergarten on up.
We are now, finally. living in a society that reminds me of the classic Science Fiction epic ‘They Live’ (starring professional wrestling’s Rowdy Roddy Piper) in which aliens have taken control and have put subliminal messages everywhere to keep the populace in line: Breed, Consume, Obey. The difference is we aren’t infested with aliens, just fundamentalists, elitist rich and mammoth, politician-buying corporations who have power and money, who want to keep it and who will brainwash you your children into being nice obedient consumers and servants to increase it. Oh, and that this is for real, people.