Thursday, August 04, 2005

Vegetation

I'm still recovering. This past week, I've just been schlepping around the apartment, watching movies and raiding my uncle's gigantic collection of bootlegged DVDs. His garbage bags contained the usual suspects, like Top Gun with Chinese subtitles, some rare finds like Russian Ark (highly recommended), something starring Tom Hanks with the film description of Scarface written on the back, Korean porn and this: "Virgins of Sherwood Forest. Featuring the winner of Survivor: Thailand." So that's what he's been up to.

I finally relented and watched Fahrenheit 9/11 (have I mentioned my dislike for hype-induced conversation? I'm willfully behind the times that way). My 13-year-old sister sat beside me as I paused and played, paused and played, in order to fill her in on background material (you try to simplify a hundred years of American history into something remotely digestible). When the credits rolled, she rubbed her eyes a little and asked me, quite nonchalantly, "So who's the current president?"

I know I shouldn't have shamed her, but I couldn't help myself. She's an above-average student, completes her homework on time, thoughtful, polite, an all-'round antithesis of me. But what she said made me cringe. Oddly, I think she deserves a lot of credit too. Who among us is still immune to the effects of media saturation? Perhaps our nose for propaganda is nurtured by the acceptance of the encounter and not a skill acquired naturally or adaptively. Or maybe -- just maybe -- her country has failed to provide her with an education deemed more than satisfactory. Why can't more adults shed their romantic view of childhood innocence to help their children escape the burdens of ignorance and superficiality? It's like a cultural safety blanket: reliable, comfortable, vast and fake.

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