Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Perfect Icon for Our Times

Hats off to Newsweek Magazine for its cover photograph of the wide-eyed, looney-looking Michele Bachmann. More than any other single visual image in the last few years, this Pulitzer-worthy photo captures every nuance of America’s flirtation with true collective mental illness. Whether or not it was Newsweek’s intention, the magazine has given us the perfect icon for our times. We're so messed up now that we can't even do rebellion in a rational way.

Looking back to the early years of Vietnam, governmental failures at that time coincided with the Civil Rights movement, and the summer of love in San Francisco, followed by Woodstock two years later. Back then, we knew how to rebel against a constrictive and dysfunctional Federal government by celebrating our own version of freedom. Our icon then was Bob Dylan who wasn’t electrically mesmerizing in any wide-eyed way. He was just simply brilliant in a thoughtful way. Fast forward 40 years. After ten years of Iraq and Afghanistan and Democrats and Republicans, our newest version of rebellion takes the form of the Tea Party, with Michele Bachmann as their standard bearer. They gravitated to her because they thought Sarah Palin was too intellectual. You know that a nation is crazy when the rebellion against the national insanity is crazier than the national insanity itself.

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