At some point you'll reach a stage in your life where you'll take a look around and realize you're just sick of it all. The same arguments, the same politicians spouting the same bullshit, the same talentless fuck singing the same empty song at the same vapid awards show. If you're not there yet, I sincerely envy you (especially if you're 86 years old and never got there), and maybe it's best if you skip this article and come back if/when you're openly cursing at your computer monitor, knowing full well that the only person who can hear you screaming is your neighbor. Because he's duct taped in your bathtub, awaiting his ... "cleansing."
For the rest of us, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there are extremely easy solutions to some of our most bitched about problems, because we are in fact the cause of those problems. The bad news is that we still won't do anything about it. For instance ...
#4. We Can Make Politicians Stop Assuming That We're All Fucking Sociopaths
Quick question: Do you know the difference between a liberal and a conservative? Wait, there's a catch. You can't say anything about religion or specific issues like abortion or gay marriage. Do you know the difference at their core? Don't feel ashamed if you don't -- most Americans don't. Here, let me help: At their most basic level, liberals believe that government is responsible for fixing social problems and ensuring equality for every citizen. They believe that "the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need." Conservatives believe in personal responsibility for our successes and failures, with a limited, smaller government.
So knowing that, explain to me how one side decided for all of us that to be a part of their club, you have to be a gun-toting, gay-hating, Bible-thumping, corporate-loving redneck? And the other a pot-smoking, godless, welfare-abusing, "give us all free shit" dumbass? Because while I acknowledge that there are plenty of people in each of those groups, I don't personally know any of them. Have I just been lucky? Because if so, I need to change the title of this point to "Stop Being the Dumb Fucks That Politicians Are Catering To."
"Now get on in there and vote. I'll be in to check and make sure you're doin' it right."
How We Can Make It Happen:
Stop being the dumb fucks that politicians are catering to. Sorry, I know I'm just pissing into the wind with that advice, because the people who sincerely fit those stereotypes don't see themselves as the bad guys. The homophobic slurs and screaming protests conducted at funerals all sound perfectly legitimate in their heads, the same way that the voices are absolutely real to a schizophrenic. There is no changing the perception of people like that.
Which is fine, because they are not the majority -- they're a loud minority, and politicians cater to them specifically because they are loud (as a general rule, crazy people make more noise). So if you, reader, are somewhere in the reasonable middle, the solution seems pretty clear: Be louder about your reasonableness. Writing to members of Congress en masse is a pretty damn good way to get their attention. Letting them know in a simple email that we're tired of being told that to be on their team we have to adhere to a certain religion or feel a certain way about homosexuality or marriage or abortion. That we're tired of them pointing fingers at people in their own party and claiming that they're not Republican enough because they don't denounce gay marriage ... or that they aren't Democrat enough because they don't agree that all guns should be immediately banned. Or that you're not Independent enough because you don't have cartoonishly stupid facial features.
We let them know by the hundreds of thousands that if we aren't treated like logical, thinking human beings, we won't just stay home on voting day, we will do something much more dangerous: We'll show up. And we will vote. And we will make damn sure that our votes go to a name that doesn't cater to the rabid, screaming, insane extremes.
"You know, those protesters are probably right. He probably is in hell right now."
Why We Won't:
Because even a simple email takes work, and you will never be as motivated to write one as a guy who, for instance, thinks that abortion is the new Holocaust. You see yourself as a reasonable person, you don't want to make trouble. And it's so easy to stop yourself three sentences in and think, "Why the hell am I even bothering with this. They probably get ten thousand of these a day. I'm just another meaningless voice that's going to get lost in the pile. And no matter how much I expel, you just can't make an email smell like urine." The irony, of course, is that the more letters that get thrown onto that pile, the more they have to start paying attention, because each one of those people represents a vote that they're not going to get come next election.
Give us a button that says, "Knock it off, asshole," and we'll click it. Show us a petition that says, "Undouche your party," and we'll sign it. But make us spend ten minutes writing an email in our own voice? Go fuck yourself, I don't have time for that. I'd rather spend that time calling my cousin a socialist sheep for wanting universal health care.
"Enjoy swallowing my tax dollars. I hope you choke on them, you communist whore."
#3. We Can Start a Music Revolution Right Now
Before you even think it, let's squash the idea that I'm the old man in a rocking chair, bitching about how "music was so much better when I was a kid." I'm not talking about simple taste in music -- I'm not that fucking shallow. I'm talking about the fact that music is scientifically proven to have gotten progressively more bland and homogenous since the 1970s. Or consider that the list of top-grossing concert tours is almost entirely populated by artists who haven't had a hit in decades. The simple reason is that new music isn't even worth leaving the house for. But people are still hungry for music that actually says things beyond "Here we are in this club -- watch me dance to this beat I didn't create." Let me put it another way ...
If 1980s music was the result of coked-out artists taking an angry shit, modern pop is the lingering fart smell that no air freshener can get rid of. Spraying more just makes it smell like someone shot potpourri out of their asshole. Grunge came around in the early/mid-1990s and lit a match, but since someone forgot to flush, the smell just came back again. We are currently in desperate need of someone to walk in with another book of matches and just set the entire fucking bathroom on fire.
And don't give me that bullshit about how Spanky Asstone and the 5 Knuckle Shuffles are redefining music. If they're not out in the limelight, they don't count for dick. A music revolution isn't something that goes on under the radar, three or four bands being innovative in front of a half-seated coffeehouse. If it's going to be the boot that stomps out the complete fucking embarrassment that is in today's top 40, it has to have universal acceptance.
Like these guys.
How We Can Make It Happen:
Not pirating the music you love is a good start. Because regardless of whether we justify or condemn theft, the people who are spending actual money on CDs and downloads are the ones with terrible taste. Tweens. Screaming little girls who put more value on the singer's outfit and hairstyle than the songs that come out of his stupid suckhole. And the more they buy, the more airplay that artist gets.
There are two solutions for this. 1) Start buying shit from your favorite bands to offset the crap that's on the radio right now. 2) Stop giving little kids money. If you're a parent, that makes sense. If you're not a parent, I don't want to know why you're giving kids money in the first place, but I'm going to guess that it's not legal and that you need serious help.
There is a third solution, but it takes some effort and a willingness to interact with people much younger than you. And that solution is to introduce them to new music that has some substance. If that doesn't work, just try to sneak some past them. For instance, I seriously played this at my wedding, and kids got up and danced to it, even when ... well, you'll see -- all I ask is that you give it one full minute:
Why We Won't:
This is their industry, not ours, so it's not an easy battle. When they get money, they have the luxury of spending it on whatever they want, and many of them choose Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj or Three Arm Sally. When we get money, we have to spend it on rent or bills or heroin. We feel like we can't compete with that -- not when the rules are so stacked in their favor. Real life is far more important than our music, which means that while we may be able to afford the occasional CD or download a couple of singles here and there, we can no longer justify buying unknown music on a whim and hoping that it doesn't suck. Right, Spin Doctors?
No, adulthood dictates that we choose our battles more wisely than when we were kids, and this one is just too expensive.
Ahhhh ... finally, a reward worth fighting for.