Dystopia, and What Comes Next

Posted: September 3, 2010 in crotchety ranting, Jeff Holland, Politics, Threat Quality
Tags: , , , ,

It does feel like nothing works right these days, doesn’t it? The Way Things Should Be isn’t even an option on the table anymore.

Our government doesn’t work right, that one’s pretty obvious.

Special interest groups – which is a casual, non-judgmental way of saying “Large corporations with money and influence that wish to keep doing what they’re doing without interference” – pour funding into a political party in hopes of stymieing regulation that might cost them an extra million or two when things go catastrophically wrong (or, y’know, if it threatens their current business model, even if that model is harmful in the long run).

Not even the start of it, here’s more: 

The corporations have a whole media network devoted to pushing that agenda through slander, manipulation, and, most effectively, flat-out fear-mongering. It’s a network that preaches a gospel of “The Real America” while systematically undermining the basic tenets of that “Real America” by amplifying concerns over threats abroad and giving the impression that they’re lying in wait here at home, Red Dawn-style.

Paranoia against The Other –right now, Muslims, but wait ten years and it may well be the Chinese – has reached the point where more people than last year believe their elected president is a sleeper-agent terrorist working to destroy us from within.

The American people are exhausted. In one decade alone, a horrific terrorist strike, two ongoing wars, crippling unemployment and generation-spanning national debts. With no real end in sight. It’s too much for a cultural psyche to take. They want to know Why.

And there’s only so much time in a day to research facts, and they should be able to trust something with “news” in the name, right? So they trust the news network that tells them it’s “fair,” while ignoring its agenda, no matter how blatant it might become.

It’d be manageable if the party in opposition decided to sack up and do something positive to show their opponents were wrong and their “radical” ideas had merit, rather than cow to political bullying and uninformed public sentiment. But that’s not what that party is about.

God, blegh, let’s just turn on the TV for a distraction. Oh good. A human cartoon who named his own abs and a teenage-mother/abstinence spokesperson will be on the next season of “Dancing With Cultural Relics.”

How much did the abs-cartoon make this year? $5 million? For gym/tan/laundry/getting fucked up and stalking women for sport? Awesome. Just…just awesome. Let’s see if he can work a fist-pump into his dance moves. That’s worth another million at least, I guess.

Maybe we can go to the movies. Oh, a film based on the Battleship boardgame? And it’ll be in 3D so it’ll cost a few bucks more for a CGI headache  while tweens in the theater text their friends in rather than pay any attention to the “plot”?

Nothing – NOTHING – seems to be what it should be. Not our political system, not our belief system, not even our stupid pop culture.

It’s getting harder to keep my chin up. I’m just tired. Tired and angry and sad. This ain’t the future I signed up for.

Nevermind that this future isn’t jetpacks and food-pills. This future is people who fight evolution – in every sense.

Right now, the future is The Goddamned Situation making $5 million to be a retard while “Real Americans” preach religious intolerance because the News-Box told them to use the first amendment as a conditional statement.

I know, Professor. I know.

We’re living in a dystopia more insidious, mundane and horrific than Bradbury or Orwell or Burgess could have warned us against.

This dystopia is a satire from the 80’s. We are living the Robocop/”Max Headroom” future, the one we thought was so over-the-top ridiculous that we’d see it coming?

There may be a way to move on to the next thing. To evolve. But like I say: we’re in a country where evolution itself has to struggle.

Which makes us – the people who believe in the future – the underdogs. The fight is against ignorance. The war against a reactionary, stubborn, corrupted past.

It’s time that got wrapped up, so we can move on to the next thing. It’s old and crippled and thrashing, and that’s what makes it dangerous, but that’s also what makes it killable.

So there’s your battle-cry, Real Americans. Shake it off. I just spent a page moping, I vented, and I’m done. Shake it the fuck off. The game isn’t over. The game doesn’t ever end, in fact. Keep that in mind.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Time Moves Forward – just slower than anyone wants. Gay marriage gets knocked down, but it gets back up again because it is basic human decency. It’s in a holding pattern now, but that won’t last. Because I believe human decency wins out.

It’s just like watching paint dry, waiting for everyone to catch up.

The forces of old and evil will go away. At least for a little while (nothing ever ends, remember?). But it takes work and reasonable voices and PASSION, DAMMIT, and what’s more, it takes faith that what you believe in is RIGHT. That it is HONORABLE.

We’re not done by a long shot.

Time Moves Forward.

Game on.

  1. braak says:


  2. John Doyle says:

    I AM VERY PROUD!! Amazing work!

  3. dagocutey says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. For writing so beautifully, for using your powers for good. I wish there was a way to recognize the Real Americans — some symbol and/or gesture — like that commercial where everyone can recognize the “good guys” because they wear yellow capes (but not quite so garish). This way our presence would be as public and relentless as the loud-mouthed fear mongers’, without the loudness or fear. It would generate the strength-in-numbers needed to take down that shit wall once and for all. Something that stands for everything you just wrote, that would announce our cultural attitude/position without getting involved in another counterproductive, dead end pseudo conversation.
    This needs to go viral.

  4. braak says:

    We must create a symbol.

    Something to strike fear into the hearts of the cowardly and superstitious–wait, no wait, that’s not it.

    Some kind of symbol, though, definitely.

  5. deb says:


  6. vaporland says:

    Great writing. Keep in mind that as long as American society keeps on this path it will self-destruct, resulting in population declines and reversal of environmental damage. It’s gonna take about 20 more years.

    You’ll know we’re close when they say “don’t go out during the day – the sun’s too dangerous….”


  7. Jeff Holland says:

    I agree, there needs to be a symbol. But yes, unfortunately just wearing a bat symbol probably won’t do what we need it to do.

    White hats.

    That’s just my first idea, but, yeah, it’s simple, elegant, and speaks to the time-honored cowboy tradition. The good guys wear white. Wear a white hat.

    (This is easier for Chris and I because we both have panama hats and it’d be nice if that symbolized something greater than “We like hats.”)

  8. braak says:

    Maybe a motto or something. “Believe in the Future”?

  9. dagocutey says:

    I’ve seen you guys put out some very creative artwork — throw some ideas down and let’s have a look at them. White hats aren’t a bad idea, but that whole “white=good” thing is a little . . . icky. (I know that’s not what you meant, but you see what I’m saying.) The hat thing is really cool though — even panama hats, but not a specific color? (or do they only come in white?) Perhaps another type of hat? Or some other item of dress? (neck scarf, kerchief, arm band — shit, I’d love to have a legitimate reason to wear an armband!) Of course, the symbol could just be put onto a hat or tie or whatever, so we’ve got to come up with a symbol.

    And a motto is a must — a mission statement, really. I like Braak’s, simple yet to the point, but . . . there’s more, it’s there. I think I need to re-read this piece for more ideas — and Holland, if there’s anything more you have to say on the subject, we’re all ears. Actually, I am completely just one big ear. (even though I don’t read with my ears 😉 )

  10. Tad says:

    Frankly, I’m just shocked that Holland and Braak have matching hats!

  11. Jeff Holland says:

    @Tad: We have matching cars, and I believe matching watches to boot! I like to think of it as branding.

    @Dagocutey: Panama hats primarily come in white – but I have noticed that people who wear them tend to tip their brims at each other in a kind of fellowship, so that’s pretty neat. That said…yeah, maybe not hats. Actually, I feel pretty strongly that wearing pins with the bat-signal would be the most direct way of recognizing honor among the future-minded. Nerdy, yes, but…it’s the Goddamn Batman.

    I do know I’d proudly wear a T-shirt that said “Believe in the Future.”

  12. braak says:

    The problem with the bat-symbol is that we’d have to literally co-opt it for our purposes, since it already means something else (and is actually a trademark owned by Time-Warner). It’s a shame because, you know, it’s the god-damned Batman, but I think we’ll have to find an original icon.

  13. dagocutey says:

    I never realized how many symbols there are until I tried to think of a new one — aach! Maybe it’ll have to be a word, or the first letter of a word or words. It could be an “F” for future, but the loudmouths would have a field day with that. It could be just the word “Future”, but then we’d be branded “Futurists” by the media, and that already means something else. Even Holland’s name is already taken! (Even if it wasn’t, that’d be messed up . . )

  14. Maureen says:

    What about the symbol being a white Panama hat, but with diverse manifestations?
    –The white Panama hat itself
    –In button format, a white Panama hat against a dark background
    –In lapel pin/tie tack format
    –In charm format, on a bracelet, necklace, or watch
    –As part of/worn in one’s social networking picture/icon
    –Another type of white hat, worn with a small Panamanian flag pin

  15. dagocutey says:

    You’re on the right track, but too much Panama. Too white. Keep thinking.

  16. vaporland says:

    How about a dollar sign, lying on its side, face down?

    It would be simple and easily recognizable.

  17. Maureen says:

    But it’s not just about the economy. It’s about the entire heritage of the Enlightenment being in crisis.

    Hmm. An upside-down light bulb?

  18. dagocutey says:

    Maybe a lightbulb, but instead of the old style incandescent it could be an abstract image inspired by the new flourescent type? Like maybe based on the spiral piece in the middle, something less literal?

  19. braak says:

    I was thinking that; or some kind of torch or lamp, or something. We definitely want it to be positive, though — this isn’t about criticising failures so much as it is claiming a renewed optimism about where we’re going.

  20. Maureen says:

    A lantern? Maybe based on the lanterns that Paul Revere used as signals?

    Or… a eighteenth-century lantern with a spiral fluorescent bulb inside. I’ve checked the USPTO; no one’s registered such a mark (the closest there is is a kerosene lantern “dreaming up” an incandescent bulb, which I’ll admit inspired me to juxtapose the elements).

  21. Jeff Holland says:

    Gotta admit, I was a little excited at the idea of a whole movement with a panama hat sigil, but…yes, this is better.

    Maureen, do you have a link, or a graphic you could show us? I think you might be on to something here.

  22. vaporland says:

    I like Maureen’s idea as well – she should copyright it before some conglomerate or the tea party steals it. . . .

  23. dagocutey says:

    I’m liking the whole lantern symbol. Would that make us the “Midnight Riders”?

    Has anyone had any luck with drawing something up? If so, let’s have a lookie!

  24. V.I.P. Referee says:

    The dust is settling and people appear to be losing their tolerance for blithering nonsense. Mark my words; the day of the “reality show breakdown” is limited. People are not consuming as voraciously. You can only watch so many grungily-spray-tanned bodies, “IN YOUR FACE!!!” adverts and assembly-line remodled rooms and houses, before wanting something entirely new. Gunky, goofy excess seems truly outdated and with the exception of a few “Ripley’s believe it or not!” style absurdities, will soon have its day, like the “Jerry Springer” phenom before it.

    What we’re witnessing now, is a society reaching complete maturity; our establishments have matured and are beginning to decay, a style of doing politics that’s endured for over 100 years (the tap-dancing, big-smiling showman style) feels grossly–offensively–outdated, our industries have squeezed every possible profit from rapidly outdated products and concepts and recycled and re-hatched creative ideas have reached a bloat in arts markets (Really, how many times can you rip-off Andy Warhol and 80’s dance hall music, before realizing there’s nothing much lingering beneath the surface?). America needs to change because there’s no where left to go in our modern culture. We need to branch-off in an entirely new direction. But the wave of wealth has also hit the shore and now people are terrified because a decade of war and loss has forced them to re-asses many things, including personal security and faith. And then, there’s nothing to watch on T.V.

    But lucidity will win and times are already changing. When a politician and his minions declare that The Constitution is sacred, except for the parts they don’t like, those parts which MUST be removed to satisfy their “patriotism” and national debts must be serviced with no plan for income, the funhouse mirror absurdity of our current political and cultural climate, has reached unimagined heights of slapstick caricature. It’s just seems too stupid to be true and since it is true, such outright, even sheepishly provocative stupidity, does have a shelf-life. You can only convince people that a cat, dressed as a bumble-bee is actually a sea lion, for as long as the element of surprise holds court. What we really need right now is for Americans to gain patience and discipline and for humanity, as a whole, to become less violent: The only place to go from here, concerning technology, is into a whole new world of potentially human-species-ending possibilities. We need to be ready for them. We need to grow-up. And I think that’s what we’re finally doing. This is the part where culture gets interesting, where traditions are deconstructed and are re-vamped, intellectualism naturally accompanies adversity and change and entirely new creative ideas are unleashed. The future’s already cooler than we expected, while we watched our “Smurfs” and “Thundercats”. Why couldn’t it still get better than this?

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