ABG ArtBookGuy
  Art For All PeopleŽ    We Talk Contemporary Art    April 2017
DEMOCRACY IS A MOVIE

You know Benjamin Franklin is spinning in his grave right now.

Not only is he spinning. He’s doing back flips and loop de loops. You could probably visit his gravesite right now and just see the puffs of smoke oozing from the ground.

Not because he’s in hell, but perhaps we are.

Look … the founding fathers were deeply flawed, human beings. I personally hold them singularly responsible for perpetuating slavery during their days on earth, but I’m not their judge, so I’ll shut up.

But here’s the thing …

While they bitterly disagreed and quarreled over this or that, can we not say that the founding fathers believed in this thing that we call, “AMERICA?”

I mean, for all of the bickering that they did, somehow – with the invaluable help of their wives and thousands of slaves – they managed to build a nation. They built America … literally from the ground up.

Can you imagine us doing that now?

It just doesn’t seem feasible to me. Sure, we’ve created the internet and technology galore, but somehow, it seems to pale in comparison to building a nation – along with the Western world – from nothing.

So why is Ben Franklin spinning? More importantly, when did he start spinning?

First, let me tell you when I really heard him spinning and screaming like a banshee ...

Several years ago, I was watching the Ellen DeGeneres show. She was doing a game show segment in which she was asking audience members trivia-type questions. At one point, she told a young lady in the audience:

“Name ONE justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

And the young lady looked at her in shock and replied …

“Are YOU serious?”

I remember sitting there and thinking, “Oh my God.”

SIGH.

I’m not exactly sure when the spinning began, but I’m certain it started when we began taking things for granted. It began with the rise of entitlement … you know, when we felt we no longer needed to maintain – at the very least – what others had fought so hard to give us.  

I’m going to say it began with the rise of Hollywood.

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Did we tell Hollywood that we wanted to spend endless hours with our feet propped up while watching movies or did Hollywood tell us that’s what we should be doing?

Somewhere in our evolution as a nation we took to the sofa … and stayed on the sofa. Not so much physically as emotionally. Who knew that what happens on the sofa, stays on the sofa? Literally.

Somewhere down the line, this thing that we call “Democracy” became a movie. It became something that we no longer take part in, but rather, watch. I bet John F. Kennedy never expected this ... What are we NOT doing for our country?

We watch on television, we listen on the radio, we gaze at our hand held devices … it’s all about being a spectator. And even if we do go to the polls and actually vote … even if we do attend a march or a rally … we videotape it.

Somehow, our lives are no longer about living our lives. Our lives are now about recording our lives. We’ve become spectators of our lives rather than actual participants. Our lives have become an imitation of life.

We’ve checked out.  Checked out of our own lives.  

How can we truly participate while we’re busy recording? It feels as if Democracy is no longer real life, but reel life. Democracy is a movie.

Know your talking points and hit your mark. It’s all about ideology now. Stick with the script. Do NOT depart from it.

Democracy is beginning to feel like this far away, mythical thing that your grandparents always used to talk about. In other words, it would make for a great movie.

You know how it works:

You’re sitting in a dark, luxurious movie theater. Your eyes are glued to that giant screen while you’re mindlessly stuffing handfuls of popcorn’ed butter in your mouth. 

The black screen slowly dawns to a beautiful, billowing shot of the American flag. Suddenly, your eyes fill with tears and your heart wells up with unspeakable pride.

YES! YES!

The American Dream is “reel.” How can it not be reel? Isn’t it right up there on the movie screen?

Democracy is a movie my friend. It’s becoming frozen in time, right up there on the big screen. One day, we’ll all look back and remember when we actually had the right to vote or publicly – and respectfully – express our opinions.

That’s why I’m speedily typing these words ... while I still have the chance.

Can’t you just feel things slipping away with every hour we spend in front of the TV watching the same “Game of Thrones” marathon for the fourth time?

Can’t you just feel democracy sliding down the toilet each time we try to get out of doing jury duty or choose not to cast a ballot in a school board race or get into a fistfight with someone who doesn’t share our point of view?

Democracy is becoming the stuff of legend as we decide to sit these seemingly insignificant things out.

I know … I know. You’re saying …

“Me? Oh please! MY voice doesn’t matter!”

Give it just a few more years and you may be right. Apathy and overindulgence have settled in like twins on a carousel. It’s all about self-titillation. Nobody knows that better than Hollywood.

Come on … you know as well as I do that Democracy is a movie. It’s becoming as wistful as the America flag blowing in the breeze out on my front porch.

It was truly a masterwork. I think it won Best Picture. Who was the director?

Slowly fade to black … insert an audio bed of Mr. Franklin spinning.

THE END 



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