Saturday, January 14, 2006

Boobs, Beads, and Old Glory: Globalized Patriotism and Debauchery

I personally do not believe in burning the flag. It’s a personal belief, but I’ll tell you something, I think people are overreacting, oh, just a little bit:

Random Person: “Hey buddy, my daddy died for that flag.”
Bill Hicks: "Well, shit really?—- I bought mine. Sorry. You know they sell them at K-Mart for three bucks. You’re in, you’re out, brand new flag, no violence was necessary."
Random Person: “Hey buddy, my daddy died in the Korean war for that flag.”
Bill Hicks: "What a coincidence – my flag was made in Korea!"

Bullshit! – He didn’t die for the flag. It’s a piece of cloth. He died for what the flag represents, which is the freedom – to burn the’ fucking flag ”

Well, it seems that you can't even talk about patriotism or soulless debauchery anymore without talking about how it's related to some third world country that will soon be hiring Americans to do it's unskilled labor in the factories of Alabama and South Carolina.

We here at the B&G spend quite a bit of our time trying to understand the idea of Patriotism. On the surface, it's not very hard to understand why people love their homeland (to use the term the post-9/11 US Government has used, despite it's Cold-War Russia connotations), however, it is hard to understand how so many people can ascribe themselves to the Pop-Patriotism of the last four years. If you're not familiar with Pop-Patriotism, here are the general guidelines:

  • He who has the most "Let's Roll" eagle stickers, "We Support Our Troops" yellow ribbons, and "9-11, We Won't Foget" stickers smathered all over his SUV is a hero of the American way. Though anyone with reason knows that selling the SUV and fighting for better health care for wounded troops (that is supporting the troops, is it not?) would be truly patriotic, Pop-Patriotism says, "Hey, don't worry, this is the US. Okay? We rock."
  • We must, for the sake of Pop-Patriotism, write songs like "Osama Yo Mama" or "Courtesy of Red, White, and Blue," which are essentially empty, narcissistic anthems to make people comfortable with the idea that the US is unvanquishable. Don't get The B&G wrong, we are not anti-American, we're any jingoism. You see, true patriotism would be calling people to pitch in (not go shopping). Patriotism would be doing your part: Learning languages of "critical" need so that US intelligence agencies could translate the backlog of documents waiting to be read by someone who speaks Arab, calling on people to stop buying diamonds because they are good untrackable currency for terrorists, calling on your government representatives to support research on renewable energy because Saudi Arabia is not a government to be trusted (besides, they're probably running out of oil anyway), and just do little things like turning off your lights and TV when you're not using them.
  • Pop-patriotism links marijuana to terrorism, while poppies in Afghanistan are the problem.
  • Pop-patriots call those who bring to light damaging information concerning the exploits of American and her government "Anti-American." This way they can close their eyes.
These are just a fiew aspects of Pop-patriotism. We feel it imperative (regarding the sensitive nature of the subject) to repeat that we are not condemning patriotism in all it's forms. That said, however, we feel that Patriotism to any one country is becoming physically impossible because there is no country that holds all, or most, of it's interests within its borders: Americans' tax forms are completed in India, The Simpsons is drawn in South Korea, changing daylight-savings in the US could reek havoc on numerous enterprises (namely the airline business) both inside and outside the US without exception, China's anchoring it's currency to the Euro instead of the dollar could be catastrophic, Mexico's hot peppers come from China. So, for the first time in history, every countries interests are in every country.


This brings up an interesting point concerning the flag-waving patriots who like to let everyone else carry out the business of their country while they talk about how AWESOME it is: Ever wondered, with so many factory jobs being off-shored, where so many American flags and bumperstickers are made? I mean, if you're going to paste a big Old Glory on the bumper of your car, you want the money you spend for that sticker to go to an American company with American workers, right?

Too bad. I decided to do a search and found several very interesting articles about where exactly the flags are made (we'll give you one guess): China. Yes, the country that has just decided to make life-sized, toy cars and whose economy has already started overtaking those of certain European countries has been making Old Glories since around the time of the big flag boom just after 9-11.

So think about that, when you're buying your American flags. Does it really mean something? Or do actions really speak louder than words/symbols?

For the college kids in the family (or people that just want to see breasts), I also found this interesting tidbit (thanks to Here's the trailor for Mardi Gras: Made in China (Warning: If your government, God, or Parents feel that seeing nudity will in some way cause you to do badly on the SATs, toil eternally in a pit of fire, or go cross-eyed, we encourage you not to follow the link, because there are some boobs). It is a documentary showing the factories in China where the beads for Mardi Gras in New Orleans are made.

This works to show several issues of globalization. One, something that's probably not the first to come to mind, is the fact that Katrina was probably a catastrophe for the people who worked in this factory, since Mardi Gras this year will probably be far less festive. So, in that sense, Katrina has dealt a bad hand to factory workers in China. See how it's all connected now?

We're not ignoring the horrible conditions of the workers at all, either. We're hardly going to say that Globalization is bad as a result, because all that mess is a consequence of the Washington Consensus (Those are two different links. For the second one, you have to watch an add first before you can read it).

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