Scandal. Glamour. Drama. Sex. We have found a way to make our ‘realities’ a production that only requires us to sit back on our couches as commentators. I’m not talking about films or television shows that reflect our dreams, or even provide a grittiness that begs for a larger discussion. No, this is the stuff that leans toward distraction.
I support the arts and fully understand that what we read and watch can be both enlightening and escapist. After all, not everything has to graze the underbelly of deeper meaning to serve a purpose in this life. We can’t be serious all the time. And it has nothing to do with intelligence. Some of the smartest people I know enjoy things that others might consider purely frivolous.
The concern, however, comes from the theatrics that are labeled as reality: socialites fighting about what dress to wear, pregnant teenagers drinking alcohol, the travesty of when to fit in a much-needed spray tan… the list goes on. The truth is we will always be attracted to pretty things. We will always be fascinated by the grotesque. In those extremes we watch what it would be like to live a life of leisure while simultaneously taking pleasure in the inevitable topple from success. It’s a hypnotic dance that keeps our feet moving in circles. Honestly, it’s our self-destruction.
We pay more attention to the branding of reality than the actuality of what happens in our day-to-day lives. This is why when tragedy takes place there is numerous speculation on how the right person with the right weapon could have saved the day. We have written ourselves in as heroes without paying attention to the plot. Why? Well, because to face up to what is truly happening means we may have to take a good, long look at our own choices. We may need to change.
In fact, change is the only way we’re going to get this country to a place where socialism stops becoming a bad word. A place where education is seen as the foundation for our greatest achievements, and not as a crutch that leaves our children and teachers constantly limping. A place where healthcare is valued across the board.
But change can’t be something we only talk about. In 2008, President Barack Obama discussed the difficulties that came with this desire for more. He explained that it fell back on us to push our leaders toward what we need. Sadly, his words seemed to be drowned out by the applause that momentous night because many people grew embittered when things didn’t happen quickly enough. That platform became a tool used by the Republican Party during this most recent election—a tool that we handed to them because, once again, we reverted to spectators who decided to sit back and shout at the screen instead of standing up and working toward what we want.
Yes, we accessorized ‘change’ so much that she can’t go anywhere without the paparazzi following her strappy heels and star-spangled earrings around town. Our realities have become broken philosophies. We made that unfortunate choice. But it’s time to stop pretending. We know better.
We can complain about our government’s inability to act. We can focus on John Boehner’s falling tears, or the never-ending cycle of ‘he saids’ and ‘she saids’. But isn’t there enough of that reality representing us already? I believe it’s time to take back our roles.
It’s not that we shouldn’t dream. Oh, please don’t think that’s the problem. Dreams are the very things that get us through the hardships in this life. What we need to remember, however, is that there is a huge gap between reality and our goals. We should use this space to reach out and grab one another’s hands to help, to remind, to love—not to take a bow.