America has many, many faults. That much is undeniable. The recent spate of shootings in the US and the fact that a Democrat is sitting in the White House with a majority in both houses of Congress, has given credence to the possibility of Barack Obama tackling arms control. Some kind of ban is a long overdue change yet to be implemented in a country where taking drugs without intent to distribute can lead to a hefty spell behind bars but carrying a deadly weapon in your back pocket is seen as the norm. Carry an eighth of dope in your pocket and you’re branded enemy number one. Carry a killing weapon and you’re nothing short of a patriot.
Americans still have a remarkably laissez faire attitude to guns, at least compared to other issues. As George F. Will notes in The Washington Post, one and a half million people were arrested last year on drugs-related charges and over half a million were imprisoned. War on drugs. Peace on weapons of war.
You can even join a club to celebrate your gun, the notorious NRA (National Rifle Association). The Legalise Cannabis Alliance wouldn’t get anywhere in America without getting shipped to the nearest penitentiary, let alone have elected politicians cower before them, as they do with the N.R.A.
America’s Constitution, written in 1787, allowed the citizens of the United States to “bear arms”. In 18th Century America, this was understandable. You couldn’t so much as hang around the local saloon bar without getting shot – we’ve seen the Spaghetti Western movies.
The attitude of rednecks up and down the US – the kind that chews matchsticks, wear string vests and commit incest – is that “if some crazy gunman wants to come near my family, I want to defend them”. This attitude gets no-one anywhere. It encourages others to take up arms through fear until every citizen in a state like Texas has more guns under their pillows than Britain can afford for its serving soldiers.
The ironic thing is, according to several newspaper reports, a gunman who shot thirteen people dead said in his suicide note that a key reason for doing what he did was his fear that President Obama would ban guns! Well, that showed him, didn’t it? That’s really gonna help!
Another phenomenon doing well in America, and one which is no less brain-destroying than guns, is High School Musical (sorry for slipping from a rant about gun control to a diatribe against popular television without even attempting to segue between the topics). The gloopy cash-cow franchise has to date released three movies and has experienced more spin-offs than a dradel. It makes ridiculous amounts of money from their fawning fans across the globe; usually girls aged 7-13, all dreamy and glass-eyed in adoration of their teen heart throbs.
This market is fed bilge of the highest degree, including Zac Effron the High School champ. Like the cast of American Pie before him, Effron is clearly far too old to be attending High School, thus propagating the myth that all teenage boys are tall, handsome and more sensitive than a Litmus Test on Diet Coke.
Luckily, as they grow up, these extremely impressionable youngsters realise we’re all just a bunch of wankers; egotistical, nightmarish monsters, who want all the fun stuff of a relationship (sex, err, that’s it) and none of the boring stuff (meeting the parents, being nice, actually spending time together – all that jazz).
Furthermore, they realise that not every teenage boy has perfect skin, immaculate hair, a good singing voice and the ability to dance to more sophisticated tunes than YMCA by the Village People at their Nan’s wedding.
Unfortunately for boys looking to replicate Zac, it is extraordinarily rare for any one person to pertain all of these abilities. Someone may dance like Justin Timberlake and sing like Prince, but he probably looks like the kind of person you could lose in the vegetable aisle of Sainsbury’s due to their facial resemblance to a sack of spuds.
It all boils down to one simple fact; life ain’t as good as the movies. Besides, these girls must know the reality of school life doesn’t involve breaking out into horrid, cheesy pop tunes and dancing on top of the school dining tables every five minutes, so maybe they actually do realise that us young men are not like Zac at all and most of us are insecure twats. I do hope so, or my life will have just become ten times more difficult.
High School Musical has become that rare thing; a decent counter-argument for gun control. Oops.