Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Precarious Vicariousness. Part 2. Cartoon Nation.

I have long pondered this Vicariousness problem. In the prior post, I covered the 'what' of it. And so now I'll try to cover the 'why'.

Once upon a time people had a compass, some inner direction to shape their destinies and navigate life for better or worse. The arrival of generic mass market trappings ushered in a time of shift to the 'radar' or a focus on what 'other's ' think as conformity extended its influence.

David Riesman covered this more skillfully than I can in his masterful work, 'The Lonely Crowd'.

But I'm beginning to wonder if the radar is falling into disrepair to give way to a dismaying abandonment of social development as it was formerly known.

It would appear that we now have an embrace of the vicarious to an extent of entire subcultures descending into little more than stylized cartoons called 'lifestyles' that resemble injection molded personalities entirely crafted of received media imposition with the distinct humanness of many becoming a thing at the margins.

On the broadest level, many women and men have become stylized cartoons of what they assume their roles to be based on cues from TV. And from there, the cartoonishness is further shaped by lifestyle affiliations from Goth to Hip Hop Gangsta to Neo Con, Fundamentalist Christian, White Supremacist and so on.

And many are soaked in a vicarious marinade of moviedom whereby a most telling outcome of 9/11 was how it seemed like a movie. Leisure activity is increasingly given to conspicuous waste at bizarre Theme Parks, wholly artificial simulacra rather than participation in the actual world.

Cues for daily conduct emanate from exhibitionist spectacles of kangaroo court Jerry Springer messes or the oddly named Reality Shows. A numbness sets in to desensitize the hapless from the consequences of many powerful hazards bearing down from eco catastrophe to Orwellian ascendancy of pitiless corporate oligarchy.

And those of us who greet the imposition of manufactured personality often find ourselves wondering what sort of tumult will finally break the spell and will it be survivable?