Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The 1980s: "You're just jealous."


1980s A'murka--The only thing to miss about the 1980s is that the nightmare had only begun, that Reagan's policies wouldn't hit us until right before he left office in 1987, around the time of that other stock market crash.

Then, there was the lurid-spectacle of Iran-Contra going on in the backdrop of all of this, where Reagan and his group in the basement of the White House ran a secret government to pay for an illegal war in Nicaragua that involved gun-running and maybe even some drug trafficking. Who said any of it ever ended? Look at how much heroin is flowing out of Afghanistan since we got there. It was virtually extinct under the Taliban.

When we accuse Venezuela of "not cooperating in the [our] war on drugs," we're only underlining our own "extralegal" (illegal) activities. Why do you think there are so many banks in Panama capital city? That darned Chavez, I tell ya.'

Yet, Chavez is really just jealous, so we won't trouble our minds with him.

By the end, Reagan looked as empty, haggard, and intellectually vacant as the current system does today. That's because he was--as writer Paul Slansky put it--"An actor was playing the president." Little has changed since then, except for the observation that in-retrospect, Reagan faked it better as a former Hollywood actor. By the end, Reagan looked like he did when he first entered office: a washed-up, sad little man who also happened to be senile. Regardless of how much Reagan comforted us with his grandfatherly voice of authority, he wasn't FDR, and his time in office was a disaster. Like now, it was an embarrassing time to be an American.

When you criticized the way things were in the 1980s you were either called a communist, being "political" (whatever that meant), and the catch-all, "You're just jealous."

That's right. You're...just...jealous.

It has an incredible ring of intelligence, no? I didn't think so either. "I'm just jealous," I would say to myself as a mantra for yucks, walking home from high school hoping I wouldn't be mugged. There was an incredible logic to the phrase that still escapes me, but I think sometime in the 1990s I figured out what all those smart people were trying to tell me: "Matt, sell your soul for some poorly-made petrochemical consumer products that are going to be out of fashion in ten years like us, you're making us look bad." No thanks, I'm full.

Therefore: "You're just jealous." Got it? Me either! OK, so the other part I figured out was that if you have a lot of money, people become jealous of you and want to be exactly like you. That's right, even that balding problem and your inability to achieve an erection. Or, you know, things like holding the opinion that "Top Gun" was the best movie of all time, ever. I mean ever. And they also say that Randy "Duke" Cunningham was "framed." These accusers were just jealous, especially when the Dukester man proclaimed that "I never smoked marijuana," so how bad could he be for taking bribes and demanding hookers as payment for defense contract earmarks? You're...just...jealous. Got it now? See how easy that works?

It's really simple--if you criticize the way things are in America, you're just jealous and we're going to keep stonewalling you with this yammering catch-phrase until you say 'uncle.' Yeah, that was the eighties, just a smothering conformism that choked-out all light. Somehow, there were still good movies and really original underground music then. I don't know how, but these cultural sparks did a good job of hiding themselves until I heard the Butthole Surfers one fateful night in the fall of 1986 (their cover of "American Woman").

Don't get me wrong, I'd already heard PiL, DEVO, Killing Joke, and the Talking Heads by that point. As you can imagine, all this countercultural stuff...well, it made me feel--jealous. I was as confused as one of those screw-ups in a Jack T. Chick comic book.

Jealous? Today? No-no-no, we're not jealous. Alright, maybe just a tad, but we'll get over it and pull-up our bootstraps...shit, no, that's not going to work any more. We must nationalize our banks and scrap our speech on the economy that had all that "free market" B.S. peppering it, and our conservative smokescreen just isn't cutting it these days, so it's spent. Welcome to the inevitability of Socialism.

Poor, you don't need to be jealous no more, we'll all be equal in the leveling. They're gonna be playing "St. James Infirmary" in the streets of America again, and we'll all be jealous together. America has gone too long without a spectacularly public tarring-and-feathering. That time has come because we're obviously just that jealous.