(The Tablet) Alana Newhouse–Everything Is Broken And how to fix it

The vast majority of Americans are not ideologues. They are people who wish to live in a free country and get along with their neighbors while engaging in profitable work, getting married, raising families, being entertained, and fulfilling their American right to adventure and self-invention. They are also the consumer base for movies, TV, books, and other cultural products. Every time Americans are given the option to ratify progressive dictates through their consumer choices, they vote in the opposite direction. When HBO removed Gone with the Wind from its on-demand library last year, it became the #1 bestselling movie on Amazon. Meanwhile, endless numbers of Hollywood right-think movies and supposed literary masterworks about oppression are dismal failures for studios and publishing houses that would rather sink into debt than face a social-justice firing squad on Twitter.

This disconnect between culturally mandated politics and the actual demonstrated preferences of most Americans has created an enormous reserve of unmet needs—and a generational opportunity. Build new things! Create great art! Understand and accept that sensory information is the brain’s food, and that Silicon Valley is systematically starving us of it. Avoid going entirely tree-blind. Make a friend and don’t talk politics with them. Do things that generate love and attention from three people you actually know instead of hundreds you don’t. Abandon the blighted Ivy League, please, I beg of you. Start a publishing house that puts out books that anger, surprise and delight people and which make them want to read. Be brave enough to make film and TV that appeals to actual audiences and not 14 people on Twitter. Establish a newspaper, one people can see themselves in and hold in their hands. Go back to a house of worship—every week. Give up on our current institutions; they already gave up on us.

At the lowest point with my son—the moment when I was convinced something was deeply wrong, and that I would never be able to fix it—my husband found himself on a reporting trip, where he encountered the head of an illustrious yeshiva. I had been sending David desperate texts all afternoon, and at one point his own anguish became obvious. “What’s your son’s name?” the rabbi asked, and David told him it was Elijah. “Ah, the prophet of unlikely redemption,” he said, smiling. “With them, the good news is almost as hard as the bad.”

It took me a while, but I eventually figured out what he meant. Sometimes the task of rebuilding—of accepting what has been broken and making things anew—is so daunting that it can almost feel easier to believe it can’t be done.

But it can.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A.