Superheroes say they defend everyone, but the clear message from the current crop of superhero movies is “you don’t matter”. The carelessness anyone but the central characters are dealt with is extreme. Anyone can and does die, and no one mourns them. The entertainment as a viewer is getting to feel above it all, as if we are one of the main characters, privileged to leap from one often-insensible crash-bang to another, and then walk away. This is also true with much of what passes for crime drama on TV. What is particularly insidious is it is also the message coming from our government representatives and media outlets. The poor, the powerless, “undesirables” (read: the old, infirm, unfortunate, ugly, intellectually challenged, etc.) and the less-than (women, gay, people of color, etc.) are all disposable, especially as any individual racks up membership in these categories- and then can be dispatched by those in power with self justifying sadistic pleasure.
The wave this point of view is experiencing is not limited to the U.S., just as nothing is bound by nationality in border, funds, or belief anymore. It has become a global phenomenon.
Very effectively, all people have become so afraid for themselves and those (whom or what) they love that it takes very little to make an individual feel threatened, afraid, at risk. A camera watches you everywhere, from the sky, a lamppost, a local grocery building, or your own computer. Our infrastructure is crumbling, and those entrusted with the general welfare are as afraid as the rest: police, fire, political, and medical workers are clearly taught that they must care for themselves, and that their time and lives are worth little, so gaining financially from dubious acts is par for the course and their due. The ethos is sold to us: to feel superior, and believe you can outsmart and “out play” everyone else is your privilege. As a recent popular sci-fi show put it, “That man there had an ax. Now I have it.”
If you do not go with the flow, you can be destroyed financially, medically, or in any way possible with very little effort. Anonymous is not you, and does not work for your concerns. The Klan, Black Panthers, Occupy, and various groups all have something in common- they are watched, and essentially powerless. If they attack anyone but the wealthy elites (and that is a very small group), then it is just an advantage. Divide and conquer has been around a long time for a reason: it works. And in most cases, there is very little needed but lies and whispers to start a divide. It grows of it’s own accord, and in the present social media age, becomes “fact” very quickly.
Getting any traction to collaborate, or care for long term goals of community (without a monetary reward or religious shibboleth which just causes a superficial pretending to care with a well indoctrinated language) seems difficult. Getting anyone to care about international issues is almost impossible- it’s “over there” somewhere and any resources ought to be focused on taking care of me, and my local issues.
High stakes testing in both schools and at work seek openly to sort. An array of statistics and correlative data justifies giving what dwindling resources exist to those who are intellectually deemed “worthy”. The rest will just have to work it out for themselves. The consequences of this sorting pits people against each other as they scrabble for a vision of security and safety (“helicopter” parents are all too aware), attained by the right educational institutions, programs, and jobs. This keeps people very busy, scared, ignorant, and too tired to think about the big picture. It also creates mid-level sadists who get pleasure from creating new ways to manipulate others, even as they know they will only get small, but consecutive cuts of the profits. It is ugly, and it is pervasive.
Scientists have learned well what possibilities of beauty and accomplishment exist. They accept tracks in academic institutions and industry, which grow ever smaller and more constrained. As higher education is slowly starved by legislatures, they are made the hands of private industry. Data, studies, or opinions that differ from the agenda of funding sources are disappeared or not funded at all. A hamster wheel of looking for funds to support research while at the same time being careful not to prove or discover anything that might threaten one’s position makes our best and brightest myopic and afraid.
Our military has been well shaped to the rhetoric of religion, and absolute authority. Young people without options have been told it is a route to access healthcare, education, and security. Sadly the opposite is the case, as private organizations such as the ever-morphing Blackwater/Xe/Academy become privy to military concerns, but without oversight making them the perfect real army, and sponges for federal dollars in the name of “efficiency”.
This is not news to anyone around the world. Each region has it’s own version of this picture, with varying degrees of violence and unrest. Our own government has made “civil unrest” a top priority, providing military tech to local governments, and funding studies about how to identify and control such unrest. What is not clear is if the real causes of social unrest will be addressed, or just the consequences so that the benefit of a few remains.
Meanwhile, we entertain and work ourselves to death, because we feel safe for the moment living this way or think we have no options. Our focus becomes smaller and smaller, and many of us turn from the din of media, live day to day. Some build bunkers; some build networks they think will help them. It is a patchwork of desperation because all of us want not to be the “innocent bystander” inserted via CG that gets blown to bits and is not seen again. That nameless individual no medical worker will materialize for, one whose plans and projects will fade, who will have their life insurance subverted on a technicality, whose grave will go unmarked.