Tuesday, June 20, 2006
So Much That We Share, It's Time We're Aware
I've been to Disneyland probably a hundred times in my life. Yes, it's crowded, it's expensive and when I take my kids, they usually complain the whole time we are there. I don't blame them really because it is the hard-wired socio-genetic nature of children to be dissatisfied with anything that costs over $75. New parents will often joke at birthday parties "Ha ha, look, I spent all this money on presents and the kid is only interested in the box it came in, ha ha" when really they are just grateful all these people are around to keep them from murdering their ungrateful devil-spawn.
Personally satisfying or not, I can say that from my trips to Disneyland, I have definitively learned at least three things: 1) walking + sweating + a little extra weight = unpleasant thigh chafing; 2) it is possible to pay over $50 for a burger-and-fries meal for one family and 3) it's a small world after all.
That last lesson was both the easiest to learn and the hardest to understand. It was easy to learn because it is set to a catchy little tune sung at you by dolls while you are trapped in a boat. It was hard to understand because some of the dolls speak different languages.
But by the end of the Small World ride, it all makes sense: the world would be a perfect place if only we would all wear matching monochrome outfits. And speak English. That last section of the ride, when all the confusing babble of heathen jabber is streamlined into powerful, unifying English really gets to the heart of most of the world's problems, all of which stem from persistent foreign-ness.
Now more than ever I am confident that Walt Disney's explicit dream of total American globo-cultural domination via consumerism (supported, eventually, by an army of solar-powered self-aware animatronics) can be realized, thanks to the quickening pace of instantaneous global communications by which we might transfer our superior language and culture.
Look, I'm doing it to you right now!
The best thing about having such a shallow culture is that it's very portable. If all we're trying to convey is Coca-Cola tastes good and we should share a frenzied fascination with what goes into or comes out of Angelina Jolie's birth canal, well, not a lot of heavy lifting needed there. It's not like we're trying to make people change the way they think or live. We simply require them to add on board a few things they may have gotten by over 10,000 years of human evolution as a society without. And to consider maybe super-sizing for 49¢ more.
The best thing is that I know it's already working. Over in the Middle East, sure, you've got a couple of people whose idea of a good time is to torture and murder American servicemen. I agree, this is not co-existence. It sounds a little bit like resistance, actually.
Where does this level of vitriol and hatred come from? It comes from a desperation borne of the realization that we are winning. Maybe not in any readily obvious military way, but slowly, culturally, we are eating away at the separateness that made all the scary dolls in the Disney ride sing words I didn't get so that one day we will all be pasteurized and streamlined, singing in one voice and probably watching Andy Griffith on the Superstation (Andy Griffith Show or Matlock, your choice!).
As evidence I present to you the ongoing story about the Michigan girl who tried to run away to the West Bank to be with the Palestinian guy she met on MySpace.
The 20-year-old Palestinian man agreed to be interviewed by the AP and details are coming out now. The two lovers still talk to each other, he still wants them to be together in defiance of her parents and several international statutes against trafficking minors for the express purpose of sex, blah blah blah.
A few things to point out:
First, the story describes "Abdullah Jimzawi, a 20-year-old high school dropout who lives with his parents in Jericho" who also "spent 10 hours a day in Internet chat rooms" and "loves songs and to chat with people outside of the country and doesn't like to talk to people here."
Chat rooms all day, high school dropout, lives with parents, socially retarded... is there anything more American than that description? We've got 'em, people.
Plus, what must be even worse for those who commit acts of terror in the name of Palestinians, the ostensible engine that drives all this post-WWII anti-Western hatred, this young Palestinian warrior said:
"When I realized she wasn't coming, I felt my whole world collapse... My tears didn't stop and I couldn't sleep for three days."
This is what the al-Qaeda is now fighting for: so this kid and his family can have a homeland where he will be free to be an emo-pussy.
We are winning.
It's a small world indeed. And we will keep beating on it and beating on it until it is exactly the size and shape we decide best suits our needs.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.7