Culture of Fear


See, for some reason, the thought of traveling on a plane deep into the heart of this country is really really frightening to me. But why? It's ridiculous. I don't know if you've read FEAR and LOATHING in LAS VEGAS but I think I'm afraid of this nation for the same reasons the two characters in FEAR and LOATHING are. Duke (the character Johnny Depp plays in the movie) is a journalist, a personification of the American media. He is constantly paranoid because the American media is constantly paranoid. All we see in the news today is bad news, mainly because of the exploitative "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality. The media's portrayal of our nation (not to mention much of the world) is a scary one. But does this world even exist? Have any of us personally experienced all the bad things (e.g. violence, crime, natural disasters, sars, Killer bees, bird flus, terrorism, etc.) that are portrayed in the media? Few of us actually have. I know I haven't. So we're basically afraid of a nation that doesn't exist. It's an illusion. A ghost.

 

Or, to tie in LOF (Lord of the Flies), we fear a beast that may not (and ultimately) doesn't exist. And, in turn, we become a beast ourselves. Here's what I mean by that:

 

In FEAR and LOATHING, Duke and the lawyer arm themselves with drugs to numb themselves from a world that they have come to believe (through the media) is a very very frightening place. But is it worth becoming a junkie just to protect yourself from this world? Because, in becoming one, you kill yourself, become your own murderer, and in that sense become the very beast that you were initially trying to escape the harm of.

 

But the drug-taking in FEAR and LOATHING is mostly a dramatic-device - it is an action that literally kills. To be more figurative, fear paralyzes us, like taking drugs kind of does. It makes us not do things that we should do. The meaning of life is TO DO, but allowing fear to get the better of us makes us passive. And passivity kills. So, in this sense, fear makes us become our own beast. We kill ourselves with our own fear.

 

Anyway, as ridiculous as it seems, the thought of traveling deep into this nation frightens the hell out of me. And when I really think about it, it's the media of today that has made me so frightened of this nation. But is there anything worth being afraid of? I don't know. But, if there is, so be it. What's the worst that could happen? OK, I could die. But if I do die, that's something I can't prevent anyway. Being afraid of dying kills too, but in a worse way.

 


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