Action heroes…! We love ’em, pay to see ’em, try to act like ’em. And not just when we’re adolescents who at least have an excuse for being silly, but well into our paunchy middle age. What’s going on here?
Americans have traditionally been known as a hard-driving, energetic people, ready to cross the next frontier and blaze the newest trails. It’s why we lionize those people who seem to personify these qualities. From Davey Crockett to George Custer, from John Wayne to Clint Eastwood, from whomever wins the PGA to the Oscar.
I hate to spoil a good story, but the motives behind our passion for triumphalism and exceptionalism are often no more than a restless hunger for “more.” We’ve been a “more”culture ever since the first settlers peered beyond the first range of mountains and saddled up to make whatever or whoever out there their very own. Often without knowing whether “more” would be good for us or not. Just so long as we can satisfy this urge to be the biggest, the best, and the mostest.
Enter today’s dime-novel version of this American Dream: Red Bull.
Last year more than 20,000 people were admitted to the ER with anxiety, rapid heartbeat, seizures or heart attacks attributed to downing energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar. Magic elixirs for the taste for “more” that gets into most Americans’ ppsyches. This stuff is proving far more potent than anyone thought, with 18 deaths now on the record books. But in the true tradition of don’t-tell-me-what-I-can-do consumerism, these drinks are unregulated for anyone who’s got the money to pay.
Does this sound a little like our passion for unregulated access to guns, to drugs, to alcohol? Yeah, I think so too.
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