The American Drug: The Poison Is in the Dose

Editor Sean Davis, Editor's Choice, September 23rd, 2013

While you are worrying about Miley Cyrus, Syria gassed their own population...

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The American Drug – A column that battles the mental obesity that comes from our unhealthy consumption of fast food for the mind.

 I. The Poison Is in the Dose

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is a direct quote from the United States Constitution, and it is the foundation of the American Dream. While the words haven’t changed since they were inked by our founding fathers, the definitions of those words have. What’s life today compared to life in the late Eighteenth Century? What does liberty mean in your life? Happiness in our one-time-use, consumer culture isn’t a quantifiable item; happiness today is a high, and our fix comes in every sitcom, celebrity scandal, and now the coverage of our wars. The American Dream isn’t a dream anymore it’s a drug.

The drug is the marketing of the American Dream. Name a popular contemporary American artist. Name any American Artist. Okay, you came up with Jackson Pollack or Andy Warhol. Good job, but today if an artist has true potential to be great and wants to make money they inevitably move into graphic design, advertisement, or marketing. Our amazing works today come in the form of logos, slogans, and marketing campaigns instead of paintings, sculptures, and symphonies. The advertising agencies sell us happiness in the form of soda, pills to ask our doctors about, or yogurt that keeps us regular. Talent is hoarded in order to better sell more products and art is condensed to quick slogans and clever logos to give us a more potent drug. We’re given small doses every day for a sustained high.

Change the channel to TMZ or click on any social media and watch Kim Kardashian getting paid millions for a broadcasted wedding that lasted a little over two months. Justin Bieber told a five-star hotel representative that he was blessing their establishment by pissing into a mop bucket in their kitchen. Britney Spears lost her mind, shaved her head, and beat a Lexus with an umbrella handle. Chris Brown beat his girlfriend and months later he hits the talk show circuit, a golden boy, like nothing happened. Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Anthony Weiner. Nothing feels as good as being outraged, self-righteous, disgusted. Then the second wave rationalizes, justifies, or screams that we should be worried about a bigger problems: Miley Cyrus is just trying to sell records; we wouldn’t be having this discussion if it were a man up there; or while you are worrying about Miley Cyrus, Syria gassed their own population with chemical weapons designed to kill people in amazingly agonizing ways. Not only do we have a fixed stream of advertising providing a steady high, we also have celebrities to give us our peaks and valleys.

I was unable to move as I watched Miley Cyrus twerk her way into the collective memory of our culture. I watched in disgust, anger, and disbelief, but why? This has happened before and will happen again. The media outlets pray for these viral outrages so they can sell records, sell magazines, and sell ad time. We eat it up. We love it. We need it.

We need to remember the American Drug isn’t necessarily bad for us. The difference between medicine and poison is in the type and amount. There are healthy choices out there but too many people choose the better-tasting, empty calorie fast food for the brain and because of that our society is always hungry. It’s the obesity epidemic of the mind. It all gives us a mean need to consume, but this drug, like any other, can be abused. The next MTV Video Music Awards may not cause our society to collapse, but it will help to make our once great country a caricature of itself. If we reward vice, scandal, and stupidity we are removing the opportunity for our next generation to have any clear, responsible goals. Life becomes a sentence, liberty means the freedom to make an ass out of yourself, to get a viral video, and the pursuit of happiness has no real meaning.

The end.

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Sean Davis

Sean has fought in a revolution, a war, and helped save lives in New Orleans during Katrina. He’s a wildland firefighter during the summers. He’s been a police officer, a bartender, a incident responder, a supernumerary in an opera, and currently teaches writing at Mt. Hood Community College and Clackamas Community College. He volunteers as the post commander at American Legion Post 134 in the heart of the Alberta Arts District in NE Portland where he paints and writes plays, articles, and books.