Strong passions can erupt in unpredictable ways.
The government understands this – and desires that strong passions be diverted in a harmless – to the government – way.
Enter the cultivated, culturally and socially enforced obsession with organized, mass spectacle sports.
Fuuhhhhhtttttball especially but also the others.
These games – a new one to keep people busy almost every day, year-round – are not so much “bread and circuses,” as they are often called. They are the vivification of the fictional Two Minutes’ Hate in Orwell’s 1984. A means by which the passions – the frustrations and anger of men in particular – are diverted and dissipated.
In order that they aren’t directed at anything important.
Such as the ever-increasing control exercised over men by the state.
In red giant stage America, the average man has little meaningful control over his life. He does as he’s told – from driving the speed limit to paying “his” taxes. In the land of individuality, collectivism and conformity is the rule.
He must Submit and Obey. He must never raise his voice to question authority.
This stifling of independent action, punishment of deviation from any official orthodoxy and relentless suppression of independent judgment and self-reliance… this systematic thwarting of a normal man’s inclination to be a man. . . well, the pressure builds.
The movie, Falling Down, captured this brilliantly. Unfortunately for Michael Douglas’ character, he wasn’t interested in “the game.”
The demand that men submit and obey is also hammered into today’s boys – usually by women.
Orwell got one thing wrong. It is not Big Brother.
Everywhere, there are short-haired, pants-suited termagants vested with power; the sort who in a better time would have been spinster librarians and generally harmless. Today they infect bureaucracies such as EPA and DOJ and many others besides.
We encounter them at the doctor’s office and DMV.
The beetle-like little men that Orwell described abound, too. But they tyranny of our times is not a masculine tyranny such as Stalin’s. Note that in the Soviet Union, people were still largely free to partake of petty vices such as booze and cigarettes. Soviet power didn’t limit the size of sodas or force people to wear seat belts. It enforced political conformity only.
Maybe that’s why fuhhhhhhttttttball was never a big deal in the Soviet Union.
These days, a man can’t even paint his own house without first begging permission from the local Gertrud Schlotz-Klink. . . and if he doesn’t cut his grass when ordered or erects a shed unapproved…
Then a lien or some other encumbrance. Eventually, the thug scrum will come. So he learns to do what he’s told.
The rage boils but silently; it must have an outlet.
Enter the game.
He is empowered! On Sunday, he can bellow like a rutting Cape Buffalo as his team takes the field. He basks in the reflected glory of their victory. He merges with the crowd, it overtakes him. Becomes him.
He is a member of the community of men once more.
Garish flappy pennants festoon his vehicles.
This, of course, being not only allowed but encouraged by the government.
And when “we” lose the game, our cuckolded American sports worshipper is demoralized and dejected – sometimes, for days on end. He feels great disappointment.
He is angry.
But in a way utterly harmless to the government.
He seethes, he yells, he shakes his fist . . . at the enemy team on the screen.
Never at the true enemy. . . .
Axiom: The more hopeless a society is, the more under the thumb of the government-corporate nexus, the greater the adulation of professional sports teams and the deification of athletes. It is a kind of sweaty lottery – a means of dangling desperate hopes before hopeless people who might become dangerous if it ever occurred to them that there is no hope for them.
But hey – did you see that tackle?
The most loathsome dog torturing thug, outright rapists and murderers… beloved and forgiven, so long as they can run and throw or catch.
Always “the game.” Tonight’s. Yesterday’s. Tomorrow’s. An endless obsession with irrelevance.
It has been said that religion is the opiate of the masses. But religions center on values – and so, upon philosophy.
In other words, on things that matter.
The game does not matter.
All the natural, healthy emotions – including most especially anger – are adroitly redirected. Instead of being furious about constantly being required to disprove his alleged guilt, about having to submit to random, probable cause-free searches and such like by an increasingly tyrannical state, about being micromanaged and taxed and never, ever left in peace . . . the gelded, stoop-shouldered creature sitting in front of his TeeVeee is apopletic about that “bad call,” that the “we” weren’t able to convert on third and long.
He is a fan – truly, in the actual derivation of that word. A fanatic – about things properly the concern of children and the feeble minded.
Just what’s needed, from a certain point of view.
He has been covering these topics for 25-plus years as a columnist and author, including several years as an editorial writer/columnist for The Washington Times and contributor to newspapers and magazines around the country, including the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Detroit News and Free Press, American Spectator and many others.
His books include Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs. His latest book, Doomed, will be available next spring.
Eric lives in rural SW Virginia - as far as he could get from Northern Virginia without actually leaving the state.