America: Oscillating from Comfortably Numb to Psychosis with Guns
The latest episode of this schizophrenic sociological roller-coaster ride which has become the “bread and butter” of our daily life in contemporary America took place ,of course, in Aurora, Colorado. The delusional young man, obviously in the middle of a psychotic episode, probably thought of himself as a “Dark Knight” on a mission to “save” his victims from an even worse fate and reality. But, despite this, there is nothing to worry about for gun enthusiasm and the NRA, gun sales are already skyrocketing in Colorado, as if the lesson will never be learned. The simple lesson that violence breeds violence, that buying more guns is just reinforcing a vicious deadly cycle. Pro-gun right advocates often say that “guns don’t kill, people do”. But, if you do not have a gun in your hands, how can you pull the trigger?
Currently, guns bought in the United States and taken across the Mexican border are arming the Mexican drug cartels to the teeth. If Mexico has become a narco-state where drug lords have the police, the army, and many politicians on their payroll, it is in large part because of the superior fire power that they have due to the large influx of guns coming from the United States. American violence is not only a good “export” in its real form( guns and the US military), but it is also a mighty force in the field of its entertainment export. On screens,big and small, all over the world, violence is a hot commodity, it is constantly sexualized, and less challenged by censors- in the US- than depiction of human sexuality.
But in between these unspeakable acts of savagery, mayhem and murder sprees, Americans need to be sedated. A lot of them look into prescription pills of all sorts for this, but most find their opiates watching TV. It is of course the countless “reality” shows such as “The Real Housewives” of wherever. The locations are really irrelevant, because all of them are about gossips, stage fights and showing a life style most viewers don’t have, can not have and will never have . The same goes for “American Idol” and all of its spinoff such as ” America’s Got Talent”. The mechanic of all those shows is the same: it is about convincing people that the American dream is alive and well, that if you have talent you can become a star and finally that everyone can find love and will.
Today, it is the start of the 2012 Olympic Games. What was supposed to be the celebration of peace between nations and the triumph of the human spirit has become another mass event celebrating consumerism at its worse. Athletes are living billboards and instead of an atmosphere of peace, fear paranoia and an Orwellian ambiance of a police state will be ruling London. Corporations such as McDonald and Coke are some of the Olympic games main sponsors, which only makes perfect sense considering that the products they sell are major causes of heart attacks, obesity and diabetes. Should we be surprised that in such a schizophrenic world some people crack? What is actually surprising is that it doesn’t happen more often.
Editor’s Note: All photographs by Gilbert Mercier.