In Adbusters’ last issue titled “A New Aesthetic”, a short exert caught my attention. The exert was from Bruce E. Levine’s “Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic” and quite plainly explained America’s hunger for things that help us distance ourselves from “the real”. Levine explains that there is estimated 20 to 25 percent of Americans using psychiatric drugs, 7 to 12 percent with compulsive gambling addictions, and 10 to 15 percent who abuse alcohol and illegal drugs. In his list of unhealthy addictions and problems, Levine then begins to explain that there are millions of Americans who compulsively watch television, play video games, view pornography, shop till they drop, and play the stock market. Why is there a constant need to “get away”. It’s not imaginary, I’m only a second year university student and I feel the need to “get away” as I’m sure my profs feel a greater need. But my idea of “getting away” for some reason includes a sandy beach, with palm trees and rolling waves and a couple of beers.
I think it’s safe to conclude that growing use of drugs and growing rates of gambling can be linked to the increasingly harder to reach ideals that are being established by advertisements and the media.
It’s a funny thing how contradictory everything really is. Dr. Strangelove on multiple occasions made reference to that American writer who drove down highway 66 and wrote a book about America without ever getting out of his car. This reminds me exactly of how society is currently; desperately trying to relate with the real, claiming to be real, but indulging in an obsession with things and drugs that bring us far from the real. Maybe after all watching the marathon of “Laguna Beach” or throwing that quarter into that flashing slot machine is really just driving top up, windows closed, mouth shut, conversation-less, experience-less down a highway across the states. Maybe “getting away” should be redefined. No more bikini babes lathering on your sunscreen while you look out into crystal blue waters and your awaiting yacht, but lets “get away” in our own individual ideals formed and molded by our own thoughts and not by the flashing lights.