I Blame the British

By | Wednesday, November 15, 2006 Leave a Comment
I had an epiphany of sorts the other day. I had stopped by McAlister's Deli to pick up dinner for The Wife and myself. I like stopping there for several reasons, but I didn't have my PDA with me and I was a little irked that I couldn't therefore get use their free wireless interenet. So I was sitting there, waiting for my order to be prepared, and an old Genesis song started coming over the speakers that pipe out background music for the place. Genesis was my favorite band as a kid -- especially the late Peter Gabriel/early Phil Collins era -- so I sat back and listened a bit. I was a bit surprised, though, at how dark the lyrics to "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" really were -- I never thought about them much before.

I got my food before the song ended (one of the great things about Genesis songs is that they tend to run considerably longer than your average 3-minute pop tune) and I went back to my car, and threw in a Genesis CD. A much later recording of one of their live performances, but with some older material on it. I cue up "Domino" and listen as World War III erupts and kills untold numbers of people. Great song, but really bleak.

Then I start thinking about other popular culture I absorbed myself in around that time. Judge Dredd and Watchmen were particularly powerful to my still-developing mind. Rogue Trooper stands out as well. Our local PBS station began airing Dr. Who and Max Headroom was soon ported over as well. Not counting other sources of entertainment: the Australian Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior for example. Much of what I was reading/absorbing between the ages of 12 and 18 A) was decidedly not American in origin and B) presented a rather bleak future for the planet.

I know I must have been profoundly impacted. I can clearly recall, in my high school Freshman English class, getting up in front of the class and presenting my ideas on why the school lessons we were taught were largely worthless. I argued that we would all be much better off learning survival skills because America and Russia were going to blow each other up and we were going to have to fend for ourselves in a smoldering wasteland.

So here I am, twenty-some years later, a skeptic and a cynic. It's easy to say that I'm a product of what I was fed as a child, but in all honesty I don't entirely hold to that. I'm of the belief that there was something of a cynic in me already that let me gravitate towards the dystopian fictions. I use the phrase "I Blame the British" because it's a catchy title, but I can't honestly blame anyone but myself for my cynicism.

Back to my epihany, though. My cynicsm and skeptism aren't new, like I used to think. I used to believe that the world's gotten crappier since I've been on it, and that watching it decay around me prompted my negativity. Not so. I've apparently always been a rat bastard.
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