Sunday, August 14, 2011
Welcome Back to Amerikkka
I'm back from vacation. My boyfriend's parents invited him on a cruise to celebrate his father's 70th birthday; I got invited along as the significant other. It was a lovely, relaxing time chugging off to the floating suburb of Bermuda: a tiny, beautiful, interesting country apparently even more expensive than my own New York City, without the social tolerance. It was nice to enjoy some beautiful weather, beautiful beaches, tasty food, and pleasant company.
But how strange to be at arm's length from the world for a week, and then at the mercy of somebody else's spoon-fed perspective: we got New York Times headlines, and a choice of CNN or Faux News satellite TV, and a quick daily peek at the internet pro-rated at 75 cents a minute. The economy seems as rocky as the waves on the trip out; rioting in the U.K. seems to have brought out an orgy of racist commentary; and political news is dominated by the Iowan rise of mentally-ill fantasist/liar Michele Bachmann (that's her above) and the entry into the Republican presidential race of creepy secessionist/Christianist Texas governor Rick Perry, both heavily invested in an attempt to deprive gay Americans of their rights. Perry wants very much to inflict his union-free, minimum-wage, death-penalty friendly vision onto the whole country; his version of multi-culturalism means welcoming all kinds of people...to praise Jesus and pray for rain.
I was struck by how clear the class perspective of the media is: in the case of both the UK riots and the local Verizon workers' strike, the media voice adhered closely to the narrative of bosses and property owners. I turned off the cabin's TV this morning as some idiot (white, upper-classed) talking head was blaming the British violence not on the austerity policies of the Tory government but on the "nihilism" of hip-hop culture. Nevermind that British hip-hop is among the most socially progressive and conscious musics in the world.
I guess I'm back in that world now. Time to unpack.