America: Meat, Guns & SUVs

Elton Wong

Ours is a dysfunctional civilization. I think I fully came to this realization the other night, when I was watching “The Simpsons.” It wasn’t anything in the show itself that got me thinking; it was one of the commercials.

It started out with a beautiful shot of a forest, maybe somewhere in Canada.

There were tall, majestic trees reaching up to the blue sky streaked with stringy white clouds.

There was a stream gurgling by, splashing and rushing over the rocks of the bed like a miniature white water rapids.

Birds flew overhead and chirped happily.

Then, this Ford sports utility vehicle the size of Manhattan crashes through the woods, flattening the foliage, crushing the dirt and small woodland animals under its radial tires.

It splashes into the stream and parts it like some kind of huge, angry, metal Moses, a deep gash is left in the dirt and water as mud flies everywhere.

A masculine-sounding announcer comes on over the sound of the tires, the engine’s roar, and the crunch of the squirrels being run over. “There are no roads going to where you want to be,” he says, or something like that. “This is where your soul points you, and all you need is the new Ford F350ExplorerSuperbigpenissportsutilityvehiclealphamale to take you there.”

I once heard that everything that is uniquely American could be symbolized with just two things, guns and meat.

I propose that only one symbol is needed: the sports utility vehicle. It is huge, destructive, wasteful, ugly, boorish, excessively powerful and dangerous.

Plus, you can tell that an SUV thinks it’s sweet. Cars have personality too, you know. If a Ford Explorer were a person, he’d be some huge goon who’d go to bars every night to try and pick up women with obscene pickup lines.

You just know that he’d high-five his friends when he got rejected.

The saddest part is that there are tons of people who think nothing of plunking down $40,000 for what is essentially a station wagon mounted onto the frame of a pickup truck with worse gas mileage.

These are the people who drive over speed bumps and potholes and pretend that they’re off-road.

This, of course, is how the Romans fell. When any culture has its basic need met, its citizens get brainwashed into buying perfectly useless junk.

This principle has been the dominant dynamic of American culture since the fifties.

This whole phenomena became even more evident when I went to the mall the other day.

I hadn’t gone into a mall for a good while before then, and it has been years since I went during holiday shopping season.

No wonder I usually have pleasant associations with the holidays.

The place was absolutely insane. In the middle of all the cheerful holiday decorations and gleeful whatnot were some of the most crabby, unhappy looking people I have ever seen.

I hardly know what to make of it all.

When I walk into the Disney Store and see parents grubbing like crazed gophers for stuffed animals made in third world sweatshops by children who make 14 cents an hour, I can’t help but think that it’s all going to be over soon.

Truly I say unto you, I have seen the end and it is Christmas shopping. Forget whether our utilities will function after the new year, forget our bank accounts.

The question that should be on our minds is not “will my spring break hotel reservations be erased because of the year 2000,” but rather “will the beast with seven heads and 10 horns with 12 crowns on each horn rise from the ocean and cause bowls of God’s wrath to be poured upon the earth as foretold in the book of Revelations?”

I think that’s more the direction we’re headed in. In any case, I can’t say I would mind too much.

Even if that whole deal doesn’t play out, I think it’d be cool if social upheaval sparked by millennial fears destroyed the existing socio-economic systems and created fertile ground for a new world order based on love, understanding and the proper sense of human’s place in nature.

I’m not sure exactly how that would happen, but it would be neat.

As has been recently pointed out on these pages, affluence can’t make you happy, not even during the holidays.

Having lots of stuff will definitely not make you happy. The new year is always a good time to re-examine priorities, and the millennium should be even more so.

Elton Wong is a junior in biology from Ames.