Monday, May 28, 2012

On Being Creative and/or Intellectual: Must We Choose?

Recent studies suggest that the intelligence level of the political discussion has sunk to a junior high level of discourse. Well, duh!  According to the studies, where once Shakespeare was quoted to make a point, we now hear speakers with the equivalent of an average eighth grade education. There are exceptions, of course, but our source says Barack Obama isn't one of them. His latest State of the Union Address was apparently rated at the same junior high level. All of them have been in fact.While I'm not absolutely sure I agree (mostly because I've listened recently to Cspan coverage of the house and the senate), it is clear that the average mudslinging political ad sounds like something from the locker room, and that most serious and tide-changing ideological pandering happens onscreen nowadays.

Therefore, to be a movie maker, is to reach the pinnacle of influence over the American public. That is why it feels like politics are so commercial. They have to be to compete with the storytelling largesse of epic blockbusters such as Harry Potter, and all the other superhero sagas. How could mere mortals ever capture the national attention in such a climate? When given a choice between a Newt Gingrich who can turn an idea over convincingly, and an Incredible Hulk who can lift or destroy the empire state building, if needed, can the modern mind truly vacillate for long?  It is the age of power, not reason, which also explains Harry's enduring charm.

The blurring of lines between the truth of history and entertaining narrative is one of the challenges of our time. Why can we not have both? So much of what sells is idea ensconced in magic. We love a good story, and will pay almost anything to get it. No matter if it isn't true. Truth only hurts, and we don't like pain. We have plenty of medicinal and recreational stores against pain, although it is pain which teaches and matures us the most consistently.

We may get what we want, after all. Leaders who provide medication, a government with super hero powers and locker room quality jokes. We will pay for all of this with a gutted national mindset. It may turn out to be quite a page turner after all. The sequel is for our grandchildren to write. Hopefully they will be creative and intellectual.

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