I took my 6-year-old to an entertainment mall the other day. Batting cages, laser tag, putt-putt, pinball. And video games. I watched an 8-year-old play one game. Shoulder-held AK47. Big color screen. Rubble-strewn streets and enemies with head coverings. I watched him for 5 full minutes energetically blow away people until his two dollars ran out. The graphics were uncompromising. Blood and body parts everywhere. He must have killed two hundred people.
Amerika has the highest per capita income in the world. In theory, if that actually translated into the welfare of the people, Amerika would be populated by well-educated, fit, healthy, informed people who can lead humanity into the future by example.
So why does it seem the exact opposite is happening?
Growing up in England in the 70 's and 80 's, together with my formative years in the 90 's, I observed many different political leaderships, attitudes and events. From Arthur Scargill to Thatcher and the Falklands War (read McCarthyism to Clinton). The one constant was the BBC. Many evenings over supper watching the news, what was really happening in the world, plus local stuff with real questions, and the avoiding of answers simply not accepted tough and impartial journalism.
The BBC is publicly funded. Everyone who owns a TV pays about $150 a year and they make programs, news, everything, with that money. Government and corporations have nothing to do with it. There are no advertisements on the BBC. When the British Open is happening, you can watch golf uninterrupted from 7am to dark, if you so wish. Are you a Monty Python fan? Thank the old BBC. David Attenborough 's magnificent "Life On Earth " series. The BBC.
In recent years, there have been dark mumblings about undue influence by corporations or government. But it endures.
Since arriving in Amerika and signing up for my $35/month cable subscription, I have watched only PBS, sports, and movies. (And Comedy Central of course, Stephen Colbert, rock on dude!). I simply cannot watch regular news and programming. And even PBS is a pathetic pale shadow of the real reporting I was brought up on.
This hit me once again just tonight. I was channel-surfing for a baseball game and hit some major channel. A white family was sitting in the front row of an audience and the oldest son about 9 was celebrating winning best funny video or something and doing that stirring thing with his arms and the parents were grinning and then they showed the video and it was something totally embarrassing for the family and I honestly thought I had the right channel and was simply watching a spoof advertisement so I stayed tuned for the baseball and nothing happened and it turned out I was watching a real program and these people were for real and they won $1000 or something and everyone applauded.
And it struck me this is what Amerika watches and believes. All day, every day. In the rest of the world, that 2-minute viewing experience of mine would be part of a comedy show ridiculing crazy foreign TV. I was waiting for the baseball game. But it was an actual program.
What if suddenly every single station on American TV showed THE TRUTH for 24 hours?
Walking down a back alley in Ramada. The camera reflects the infrared sight. Sudden movement. A terrifying explosion. Pan left. Your buddy is abbatoir material. His legs are 20 feet from his body and his severed head stares up at you. Pan forward. Movement. Insurgent. Fire. Keep firing. Lights, action, oh my god a dead kid.
And another one
And another one
And another one
And another one.
And a grandma and grampa
And a dad holding his 3-year-old.
And a young woman
And an old woman.
And a pregnant woman, holding a baby.
I only pulled the trigger for 5 seconds.
I was afraid.
My friend is dead.
And my life is over. Whether they cover for me or not. I cannot live with this.
Not even the BBC shows this folks but it 's happening every day. At least they have the cojones to tell people the situation as it is, the disaster, the body count. But even they have become a video game like all the rest, I am sad to say.
Watch CNN or Fox or whatever and you 'd be forgiven for thinking the most pressing problem was wolf-dog hybrids attacking conjoined twins in a meth lab in Wisconsin.