What else is there?
Honestly, though, how is it that sex and violence have become so conflated in the American imagination? I read a newspaper article today about school board hearing in rural Virginia, in which a board member complained about explicit depictions of human genitalia in an anatomy book. The comparison he made was that showing the innocent little ones such terrible, terrible filth was the equivalent of giving them guns to play with.
Here we can witness, in action, the collision of two uniquely American obsessions, which, as with so much else here, are played out in the eternal proxy-war of The Fate of The Children. Everybody wants to keep something from those darling kids, after all. Nobody can really agree if they're to be kept from blowing holes in each other or just blowing each other, but the one thing almost everybody seems to know for sure is that the only way of going about it is by cutting off the flow of information to their precious, unsullied heads.
But here we come to an interesting issue. If sex and violence are both such terribly, horribly awful things, why is there so much of both of them every time you turn on the TV? Is it just that the American people are for sex and violence unless their kids are involved somehow? Liberals try to euphemize the problem away with medicalized talk of "high risk behavior", conservatives break the old, threadbare, hellfire and brimstone shtick for one more go-round, but neither of them are willing to look the issue in the eye. Depictions of sex and violence are everywhere because we're fascinated by them. Can't get enough. Couldn't stop watching if we wanted to, but honestly, we don't.
And why shouldn't we be? If you had to boil down the human experience to two ideas, they'd be sex and violence. Or maybe not even two ideas, because the two are joined at the hip. Freud knew that, Nietzsche knew it, almost everybody that's ever written a good book or play did, at least at a subconscious level. Liebestod. Love-death. Eros and Thanatos. It goes straight down to the monkey brain, gets the adrenaline pumping, gets you ready to dance. So why can't we accept it? Why simultaneously build our cultural shrines to sex and violence and then try to cover our kids eyes when they see a goddamn anatomy book?
I think it's about self-hatred. America's always been the country that couldn't quite stand what it was. That's what the American fascination for motion, change and self-improvement comes from, the ongoing inconclusive 200 year long culture war that may change the battlefields, but never the passions involved. What is the American Dream, when you cut down to the bone, but the chance to stop being what you are and become something better? We can never stop, though, because no matter how much we change, it's never enough. We can never give up our petty little colonial wars, our endless and meaningless economic churning, our chickenshit social revolutions, our sulky and thwarted Utopianism, because we've never changed enough. Our children will still grow up to be just like us.
We can never really save the children, because what we're trying to save them from is us. And that's what they end up absorbing. Quake doesn't cause school shootings, self-loathing does. And so we create another generation of masturbating puritans, to act out the same conflicts on their own children forty years hence, forever and ever, Amen.
Is there anyway of breaking the death-loop? I'm fucked if I know. The mind of a nation's a difficult thing to just make a few changes to. I wish there was a way out. But I just don't know.