Sunday, June 18, 2006

I THINK I'VE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE

It's sometime in the future. The setting is in a nation that has intrusive communication technology and a huge, hi-tech military. The majority of citizens live in either a) cramped, bustling, dangerous ground-level urban areas, or b) utopian conditions where everthing is seemingly perfect and the people are doped-up on government-sanctioned, government-supplied drugs that promote happiness and good sex. Meanwhile, the elites live somewhere above it all, kept safe by both government and their own security forces. Big business and government are one and the same, manipulated by the very wealthiest of the wealthy. The large TV screens everywhere stream fast-moving images of sexy women, fast cars and newsertainment. The leaders of the country fly in and out of important meetings via sleek black airships, being careful to only go where they have absolute control of their own safety. The President's image appears often on the large, ubiquitous screens, proclaiming; "We have always been at war with Eurasia" one day, and "We have always been friends with Eurasia" the next day. "Life is good" he often proclaims, "Go shopping," "We have a Plan," "Mission Accomplished." Those who dare to question this faux stability are whisked away by men in black.

Yes, it's a fairly common sci-fi theme that we've seen many times in the movies. And we've always thought, "gee, that could happen sometime in the future if we're not careful." Or maybe we've thought, "wow, that's highly unlikely, but it's good science fiction." But we now live in the age of Reality T.V., where real life and fiction are somehow blurred. The news isn't as much about news as it is about entertainment and ratings. Our elected leaders use carefully selected words to tell us things that are somewhere between reality and fiction, where they try to get us to accept fiction as reality, and reality as fiction.

Why do I feel more and more that I'm living in this movie I've seen before? I see the President on TV and it's just like a scene from some sci-fi film. He sneaks in and out of some "New Democracy" that he's created, but he's really sneaking in and out of a high-security "Green Zone" fortification so he and his elite followers can meet with other elites to spin up some new "realities" to feed to the big screens.

So what's the difference between the movie and the reality? Well, for one thing, the movie always has a hero, someone with vision, a mission, and something called "leadership." Neo, Snake Pliskin, Mad Max, some other schlub-turned-hero who can differentiate between fact and fiction, and has the balls to do something about it. (OK, these are all male gender references, so I'll include AeronFlux, Princess Leah, etc.) The only problem with this script is that these characters are able to turn things around using violence, and their incredible ability to be shot at ten billion times without ever being hit, while killing ten billion of the enemy single-handedly.

The point of all this is that we're in The Movie We've Seen Before, and we desperately need to find a new ending. We need a citizenry that is informed and can differentiate between fact and fiction. We need a citizenry that casts more votes in real elections than they do for American Idol. And we need real leaders with real ideas who believe in truth and justice to point us in a better direction.

I don't watch reality TV because reality itself is bad enough. But honestly, as I look around me every day, I wonder how I got cast in The Movie I've Seen Before.

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