It is said that art imitates life. Looking around Chicagoland, the evidence is there to see.
But now take a second look, and notice how lately the artwork is imitating a specific kind of life. Check out the political cartoons…the alerts from city hall and school districts…the deluge of cop & CIA shows on television….the roar of monster and ET movies at theaters… even the recurring images of danger slipping into our kids’ cartoons and comics.
What’s going on here?
What I think we’re seeing is a great city and nation gradually become more gripped with great fears. Fears for our safety and security; both here and abroad. Rather than heroic cowboys on horses, we witness hefty cops in armored vehicles. Instead of rugged covered-wagon trains blazing new trails, we see SWAT teams blazing new anti-crime strategies. The once ambitious shuttles going into space have been replaced with the killer drones going into the widening areas of enemy space.
We see, sense and illustrate the dangers to our way of life. Dangers that surely call for serious city and national responses. And yet what is happening in our daily lives is what always happens as people and societies become older. Our priorities often shift from GROWING to DEFENDING [see the Roman & British empires for details].
The feeling is: We earned it and now we damn well intend to keep it at any cost! Trouble is, one of those “costs” is that earlier can-do spirit that made us the world’s future, not fortress.
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