Jay's Head
Are We All Asleep?, p. 2

At the same time, Moore undermines his dismissal of liberal claims that "social conditions are somehow responsible for violence" by making just that claim himself: in an extended narrative about a 6-year-old shooting another 6-year-old in his hometown of Flint, Michigan (Moore's own brown American pastoral), Moore suggests that had the single mother of the shooter not been forced by welfare reform to commute eighty miles a day to two below-subsistence-level jobs, she might have been able to raise her son better or at least keep an eye on him. So sometimes it's fear and sometimes it's social conditions. Fair enough; the desire for a single explanation is one of political discourse's most resilient vanities.

Moore's Americans weren't evil so much as deluded the defense contractor who couldn't imagine that massive missile factories made people more prone to violence; celebrities who couldn't even discuss poverty; etc. Everyone is guilty; if it were only the rich keeping Bush in power, that would be comprehensible. Evil, but comprehensible. But such a large portion of the middle class votes against its interests, keeping a party in power whose overriding purpose, if we are to judge by actions and not rhetoric, is to further enrich the rich and empower the powerful. As I emerged from Moore's film, it seemed to me that any political discourse at all any of it was hopelessly naive. The more cynical an interpretation of events is, the closer it is to the truth. When elections are won by people who despoil the Earth, deprive the most vulnerable, and sell it all with a smile, I wonder if all our political disputes are just the flutters of a dream. Are we all asleep?

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Image: Still from Bowling for Columbine

November 2002

jay's head
josh ring