Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Nothing to Fear but Fear itself?
They say, (whoever it is they are), that popular culture mediums reflect, and do not themselves create. The hype over the film Natural Born Killers inspiring murders that didn’t happen, did reflect a tendency to attach consequence to art, when in fact, art reflects consequence. But even then, Oliver Stone suggested that the genesis of the story came not from art but a reflection of society. But his model of killers becoming famous and celebrity was more outrageous, than accurate. The true genesis of his story is very clearly a case of a then conservative culture becoming spellbound at the horror of an event. When a car accident, extra bloody, occurs, we look. We don’t want to, but we do. It is not a guilty pleasure, it is a sense of horror that makes us look. We don’t believe the reality we see, so we stare. IT IS FEAR.
But, it is true that when something odd happens, or change is present, we seek to understand what it is, through creative mediums. Disaster, catastrophe, rebellion, and war all present the creative mediums with opportunities to consider what MIGHT happen if... and usually the underlaying cause is fear.
When Bill Clinton was President of the US, we saw gun sales and fear go up on the side of the right and off right. When George W. Bush was President of the US America caused gun sales and fear on the side of the left (in Latin America) and fear in most of the rest of the world. With President Obama in office gun sales have grown, and fear of both an impending financial disaster and the ongoing Global Warming and catastrophic implications of that cause responses in people, out of fear, and desire to know more.
Ayn Rand’s creative work in general and in particular her work ATLAS SHRUGGED has been seeing a mass response in the time since Obama took office. Are the core values of America being challenged? Well, fear of that perhaps. But beyond that, Libertarian (Ayn Rand would approve of Libertarianism, mostly) values are being reflected in the move, in America from party politics to value politics. When the Republican party lost in 2008 most were awestruck by the depth of it. But what has risen in its place, and by much of the left if not party Democrats, is a dismissal of party, and party platforms. And this will change politics at its core, because while Republicans talked a good game on anti abortion values, the real holders of those values are people who are not in line with much of core Republican views.
Global warming might not be what various critics from either side of the debate say it is, or is caused by, but it is happening. Environmental catastrophism is going to ring truer than ever in the coming years, to the point where there will not be a debate. An alarmist film such as Soylent Green from the 60s and 70s could not have happened with such power in the 80s to the present, just because the fear in the culture of it happening was at the back burner.
A world wide outbreak of disease, plague has been a fear of humans since we’ve been aware of our world around us. In the world that sees AIDS in Africa killing huge numbers, fears of Swine Flu, SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola, and more, just how freaking prescient was Mary Shelley to have perceived the LAST MAN to be one due to disease world wide? Very.
And now that Iran just test fired a missile, and has been considered close to being within 2 - 3 years of a nuclear weapon, should it develop one, how much must nuclear apocalypse be upon the minds of people, fear of that is enormous, if not as great as during the Cold War.
Fear causes people to look, out of a desire to know.