Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fixing the US: Part I, Puerile Love

Everywhere on TV and radio, and throughout the realms of cinema and WiFi, it blares forth: a preoccupation with young sex and fresh seduction. Pat characters, both the sitcom and serious sort, titillate each other with the possibility of a first-time fuck, dragging it out for as many seasons as possible. In the music world, from pop to croon to folk to rock, the standard lyric emblazons the joy of budding romance, the sort that gets teens dopey and even jumpstarts the juices of methuselahs and cougars.

Movies pair the virile hero and the supersexy heroine in a tightening spiral of erotic oomph. In other words, variations on Prince Charming meets Cinderella until it feels like you’ve swilled a melted goo of powdered sugar, and as you turn to vomit you have to ask: Is there anything worth saying about life after the honeymoon?

Want examples? Type “tension between TV couples” into a Google search. A horrendous subculture pops up. “Which Couple Has The Hottest Sexual Tension of 2009?” ( “Sexual Tension Makes And Breaks TV” ( “A Discussion Of The Sexual Tension Between Bruce Willis and Cybil Sheppard” (

Please! If that weren’t bad enough, turn on your radio and you’ll hear country twangs and rocker rasps praising some girl or guy’s chest or ass. He or she or it is just so hot. If you’re wondering about the “it” recall that pitiable classic, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”

Of course, there’s also the agony side of Cupid’s chemistry. Or the semi-sinister I’m-so-lonely-and-she-hates-me theme. And a thousand other twists and romps on anything and everything preceding a stable union.

Healthy partnerships between long-term lovers aren’t the focus or even the fallback. A happy person doesn’t buy things to salve their ego like a neurotic mess who has loneliness issues. Madison Avenue discovered this in the days of Vance Packard and has been going strong with it ever since.

After seventy years of slick advertisements, the US citizen has been molded into a whiny shallow creature, and desperately needs help to maintain and nurture relationships. You know, life AFTER the glitzy marriage and all the thrills and pitfalls that lead up to it?

I can’t help but insert some lyrics from that most excellent album by Green Day, American Idiot:

Don't want to be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new media.
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind fuck America.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Where everything isn't meant to be okay.

Beyond the stage of puerile love is a wonderful yet difficult bond of intimacy that requires communication, candor, and commitment. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were songs, TV shows and movies that provided guidance, or at least some recognition, of the majority of human togetherness?

But noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

What we get is a media obsessed with ramming another melodramatic farce into minds already convinced that there is no bliss comparable to that first tussle in the Ford. The not-so-hidden message is that relationships suck after the chapel, so badly that there’s no point in visiting that part of reality at all.

This is a huge problem with US culture. The fixation on first thrill. It demeans and shuns love in its more longstanding forms, which can be utterly satisfying, wonderful and deep.

I, for one, am tired of watching shows about fidgeting teenagers, or adults attempting to act like fidgeting teenagers. There is praiseworthy life after marriage. It takes work and skill and luck and daring and ... Hey, wouldn’t THAT make a good plot for a movie?


  1. I think the media has such a lot to answer for in terms of people being unable to commit. Is it just coincidence that my partner and I have been happily together for 15 years and we don't watch tv soaps or romantic comedies?

    American Idiot is one of my favourite albims by the way...

  2. Thanks so much for your validation, it means a lot to me! For the past year or so, I've been writing some of my favorite quotes from lyrics and books into a journal--and using that wisdom to develop my thoughts. I'm glad I've found a fellow Green Day aficionado.

    My spouse and I are going on 12 years. What a journey it's been and will be, but I am Very glad to be on it.

    Take Care,