The Twilight Saga's Breaking Dawn, a recent installment of the vampire versus werewolves teenage soap opera, collected $180 million in box office receipts these last two weeks.
But, at $8 a ticket, that equates to 22.5 million people taking the time to drive to the theater, stand in line, purchase tickets, and spend two hours watching buff, mutant teenagers cavort, fight and frolic against a backdrop of sinister sexual intensity.
Save the money and simply visit the local high school.
Point is, over an eight day period, 22.5 million Americans went to watch a teenage vampire romance. All the while, the real, human saga continues to unfold. Global financial turmoil, Occupy Wall Street protests, war, Iranian nuclear ambitions, famine, locusts in Egypt. Well, no locusts, actually. But the other seven signs of Armageddon are writ large. Or are they?
When times were tough, we used to visit the local pawn shop. Today, stay home and watch Pawn Stars.
And so goes life in a celebrity obsessed, tell-me-what-to-think world.
Only, has society become this way because life is so difficult? Or, do we make life difficult because we have decided to live like this?
Always watching. Skipping from headline to blog to Sports Center. Who's got time to think?
Market's up? I feel great! Market's down? I wanna climb in bed.
No wonder people would rather watch perfectly coiffed, hairless teenage werewolves claw at love, growing pains and each other. With the media's incessant, 24/7, never-ending storyline of negativity--we need some escapism.
Like all addicts, we maintain a constant headline high from blogs, radio, internet news sites, satellite and cable television, magazines, and newspapers.
Sufficiently depressed, we feel the need to lose ourselves in the fleeting escapist storylines offered by the cinema, home videos, lap top videos, X Boxes, Playstations, Wii, US Weekly, and The National Enquirer.
If we're so far up a creek, how can 10 million people take the time to read People magazine each month? Demi and Ashton? Seriously, who cares? Apparently, 50 million readers a year.
Has the temperament for headlines and quest for escapism ruined our ability to reason? To analyze the day's events, diagnose the problems, and deduct the best course of action?
You bet your Wheel of Fortune.
According to Albert Einstein, "Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking."
If reading can wreak such intellectual havoc, imagine what Pirates of the Caribbean 7 and Let's Make a Deal can do to your mind?
Instead of proving his Theory of Relativity, today's Einstein might have blogged about celebrity couples, the Oscars and written a screenplay that personifies atomic particles as fun loving, hormonal teenages looking for love, late nights and laughter.
"Two thumbs up for Einstein's touching teenage tale--a cure for entropy!"
"This molecular make-out session makes fusion fashionable!"
Times are tough. People are struggling. Yet the average Joe would rather figure out the next stage of Call of Duty than figure out the next stage of his life.
Facing a fork in the road, we choose the one most easily travelled. And we are fiercely loyal to the paths we choose.
We find a track to run on and go. And go. Long past the realization that the track on which we're running is less a track than a rut. But, it's our rut.
Why change what doesn't kill you?
Education. Training. Practice. Adapting. Improving. Overcoming. These are traits we force upon our kids. Not ourselves!
Once the kids are asleep? Click... The Real Housewives and CSI share our final hours of the day. Then off we drift into the arms of Morpheus.
Wake up, read the headlines, go to work, check our blogs, head home, have dinner, play video games with the kids, watch Swamp People, back to bed.
Rinse and repeat. (The Ads told me to!)
Life is not always fair. But it's more fair than not. Life doesn't care much for appearances. But it adores certain traits, and detests others. All around us are examples of which traits are punished and rewarded.
Often, those yelling "foul!" simply don't like the taste of their just deserts.
Until we are willing to take a hard look at our lives, habits and ways of thinking, we defer the right to complain, to rage against the machine.
We will continue to elect politicians who promise the world without the means to deliver. We will support movements with no underlying premise. Blindly follow hucksters. Fund college programs that provide debt but rarely result in jobs. Ensure that top actors get paid 1,000 times that of the top educators, physicists, and thinkers.
We will watch our children learn to work a joy stick more adroitly than an algebraic equation.
We will handicap good teachers and promising students by integrating families that care with those that do not.
We will foster the idea that everyone has a right to a home, job and a bachelor degree, regardless of the personal and academic wherewithal.
As you make your bed, so must you lie on it.
Until we conduct a hard core analysis of the big picture, so we shall. Dirty sheets, bed bugs, and all.