Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Name:
Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

15.12.04

American Gods

I was watching a piece on fake sports memorabilia on ESPN yesterday, and how many people are getting hosed by unscrupulous merchants selling baseballs autographed by sports stars that aren't (shocking!) real. My response to these poor people who are buying fake memorabilia?

Fuck 'em.

Yes, it's sad that they are getting hosed. But, as the guys on ESPN said, caveat emptor. (Actually, they used the not-as-cool English equivalent, "Let the buyer beware," or, more precisely, the even-lazier, "Buyer beware.") However, I'm not terribly concerned with them, and they can whine all they want about mean old merchants selling them fake crap. There's even a FBI task force dedicated to tracking these people down. Good use of your tax dollars.

I'm more concerned with the idea that you can find some kind of fulfillment in your life buying a baseball signed by Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds for $7500. I know Todd McFarlane is obsessed with sports memorabilia and buys all the important home run balls he can get his hands on, but Todd McFarlane has more money than he knows what to do with, so whatever. I would be mystified by the obsession with sports memorabilia in this country, but it makes sense when you think about it like this:

It's worship.

I know it's not a new thing to say that Americans worship money. However, I don't think it's really money that Americans worship. It's celebrity. Again, not a necessarily novel concept, but it's a good point to make. We worship these people, and any celebrity-related items. Ed Harris's socks just got auctioned off, for fuck's sake. We have a perverse desire to own things associated with gods on earth, because these are our religious relics.

Relics are interesting things. Back in the Middle Ages, churches would try to accumulate relics of saints to attract worshippers. Priests would steal relics from other churches, or make them up. Pieces of the True Cross scattered throughout Europe would fill up a forest. It was a crass move to draw illiterate peasants who desperately wanted to believe in something better into a church so they could give a portion of their meager earnings to the bottomless purses of the church. Disgusting, really.

Nowadays, we're smarter. God doesn't exist, or if he does, he's an absentee landlord. We don't need going to church and giving up our hard-earned money to priests who rape choir boys. We're smarter than that.

We worship celebrities. Celebrities are a tangible presence in our lives, and their relics can give us the same thing holy relics gave churches a thousand years ago: borrowed glory. We believe, because we own Madonna's underwear, that maybe Madonna might some day show up, praise us for owning her underwear, and take us away to share her otherworldly lifestyle. You can't challenge someone with that, but that's really what's going on. It's not like the Bible Belters are immune to this, either. Sure, they all have their Jesus bumper stickers and other showy Christian symbols, but they all worship celebrities like Dale Earnhardt. ESPN has even sanctified him with a TV movie.

Don't give me this crap about getting back to wholesome American values. We're a crass society, and we'll continue to be a crass society. It's only going to get worse, too, since we have more choices on television and in music, and we have to fill that time with more celebrities. Fame is the new religion in the U.S., and even those people who claim they want good Christian values aren't above it. Deep down, we desire to worship. We desire to fawn over people we think are better than we are. Jesus was better than we are, so we fawn over him. Barry Bonds hits home runs farther than we do, and even though he cheats, we still worship him because he must be a better person than we are. Julia Roberts accomplishes the impressive task of squirting out two (!) kids, and media outlets fight for the privilege of taking the hellions' picture!

This is what we are. Embrace it. Gods walk among us, because we have created them. That's another reason why we love to tear them down. We grow up and realize our gods are human, so we destroy them. But the desire to worship is still there, so we create more. Jesus has no chance stacked against gods we create ourselves.