The American Wake-Up Call
“America, is not the greatest country in the world anymore,” is the famous line being heard around the world by many viewers of HBO’s new series, The Newsroom. The sad truth is that this statement is not taking anyone by surprise anymore. No one stands to argue this because America really is not the greatest country anymore. For some it feels as though we as Americans have become a terrible excuse for a country, and a mockery of the world. Countries like China and Japan scorn the misfortunes of the United States while it seems like many countries are just waiting for the collapse of the U.S. empire. In a sense, why would anyone have to invade or bomb the U.S. when the country itself is blowing up internally, setting itself up to dissolve?
The premiere of The Newsroom opened with this quote by the fictional news anchor Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels:
We’re seventh in literacy. Twenty-seventh in math. Twenty-second in science. Forty-ninth in life expectancy. A hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality. Third in median household income. Number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.
Now none of this is the fault of a twenty-year-old college student, but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I dunno what the fuck you’re talkin’ about. Yosemite?
It’s the sad reality. But this country was once great and magnificent. McAvoy follows up his rant with the following quote:
Sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed. We cared about our neighbors. We put our money where our mouths were. And we never beat our chest.
We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. [pause] We reached for the stars. Acted like men.
We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it—it didn’t make us feel inferior.
We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t, oh, we didn’t scare so easy. Ha. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men. Men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
Greed has become a conqueror in America, with the greedy becoming even more slick. It’s a destructive cycle that in all honesty will always be there, but can be at least curved if someone is willing to do the work. But why? Isn’t it always easier to sit and let someone else think for you rather than question where all of your tax dollars are going, why you’re getting all of these free programs that aren’t actually free because you’re paying for them with your taxes? Or why every politician seems to be taking exuberant vacations, on whose dime?
Dangerously uninformed in an age of mass information. That’s the problem with America. For so many, the mindset is to act like infants and let mom and dad do everything for them, making all of the decisions, because someone will always be there to “fix” the mess. Americans have become so dependent on programs, free handouts, the idea that politicians are actually doing what they believe is right for the “good of the people,” that they have let these things go unchecked, unquestioned and unaccounted for. It’s a silly fantasy that so many Americans still live in that “we are the greatest nation in the world” we are the “super power”, we cannot fail, because “we are the greatest.” Instead, many of us don’t stand up for our rights anymore, we don’t stay informed nor do we care to. Many are blindly trusting a mainstream media that’s tailored to specific corporate and political agendas. This couldn’t have been made more clear than in the third episode of The Newsroom. The owner of the corporation (played by Jane Fonda) tells the head of her news division that she has “business in front of this Congress!” She meant that the real truth-telling news that her anchorman was covering needed to stop if it would displease Congressional leaders that she personally needed for business purposes.
Charlie Skinner, the president of the news division, played by Sam Waterson, fires back by saying:
You can’t possibly expect us to tailor the news to your corporate agenda!
And so begins the ethical debate over exposing reality versus money and special interests controlling the so called “guardians” whose job it is to expose reality; to be a foothold for democracy.
..it reveals the danger of big business being in bed with big government, whether the government is led by Republicans or Democrats. This is especially dangerous when it comes to big businesses that own, as a small part of their overall operations, a national-distribution news organization.
America needs a wake up call. There are definitely millions of those who are proactive and constantly trying to change things for the better of themselves and this country because they love this country, yet for so many, there is no national pride. What happened to the noble idea that once was America? Surely it’s hard to have pride in a country failing so miserably, and hard to have pride or show appreciation for anything when it’s just handed to you, but if someone actually lives in America, they should try to love their country and try to change it for the better. What is wrong with wanting and trying to help make ones country the best it can be? But that would require most Americans to step outside their isolated worlds of their own and read, listen and think critically, follow the money, become informed. Many would rather if someone else just did that for them.
For decades Americans have prided themselves on living in America. Now, many are sitting back and watching the U.S. crumble like it’s the new Friday night flick in theaters. How is this anything remotely close to America being the greatest country in the world?
“It’s not,” says Will McAvoy.
However, his associate producer, Mackenize McHale who is played by British actress Emily Mortimer replies: “But it can be.”