I’m old enough to remember the WWII days when Americans strode the world with pride, even arrogance. We seemed to believe there were only two kinds of people on the planet: Those who were Americans and those who wished they were.
Sorry, kids, if you weren’t there it may be hard to believe. It was the time of The Greatest Generation, GI’s proudly patrolling the post-war world to cheering children, Camelot in Washington, John Wayne in Hollywood, with American democracy and jazz spreading everywhere.
If you’re under 40 you may instead recall a different America. One bleeding in the jungles of VietNam, watching a president resign in disgrace, Wall Street fatcats exploiting the little guys on Main Street, 9/11 and a billion Muslims who seem to hate us.
I’m talking about a seismic shift over the last 50 years in the world’s perception of the good old US of A. Most American appear surprises, then angry, then bitter. You can track this national trajectory in our movies and television programming where our culture’s heroes are no longer trail blazers and frontier settlers, but instead SWAT teams, CIA agents, NSA trackers, drone operators, Black Op squads, plus assorted computer-humans programmed to stride the earth destroying our enemies.
Here’s my pitch.
After awhile don’t you get the feeling these heroes are not so heroic as they are Herculean? Tens of thousands of secret agents using any tool — legitimate or otherwise — which can bring down our enemies? And who are they…? Lately, pretty much the whole damn world, because once you’ve become history’s greatest superpower, the only thing left to do is hold on to that power at all costs.
All costs…! All the time…! In all the plots we watch and cheer and want so much to believe…!
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