Monday, March 13, 2006
Oh Say Can You See?
This weekend I participated in a quintessential Texas activity: I went to the Houston Rodeo with my new bud Fred. Yep, they had cows. Yep, they had horses. Yep, the whole event had strong undertones of homoeroticism. Yep, cowboys can be hot – assuming a bull hasn’t stepped on their face at some point.
The opening ceremony struck me the most, though. Since I avoid most sports events, I had not seen a public performance of the U.S. national anthem in quite some time. When did the national anthem gain corporate sponsors? In the case of this rodeo, Coca Cola brought us The Star-Spangled Banner.
We all know that I am hardly a flag waver. You will never see me demanding patriotism and I think the flag invites incineration. Something about this performance struck me as fundamentally wrong, though. Consumerism has taken over every element of our lives to the point that even patriotism has a capitalist patron.
What did Coca Cola money provide? Apparently our national attention span has become so short that we now need lots of eye-candy to keep us interested in the national anthem. At the line “Bombs Bursting in Air” we had a full pyrotechnic display. On top of that, the stadium glistened with an electric light show while a pretty-girl-in-tights waved a flag pole emitting a shower of sparks.
At the moment that the right-wing demands an unquestioning allegiance to the nation state, Americans seem unprepared or unable to commit their attention without being entertained. No wonder the American public has become so poorly informed about world news. Without a dazzling display of fire and noise, they can’t be bothered to take notice.