Sunday, April 17, 2005

Subtle Truth

In an editorial from the Enquirer today about population growth in the exurbs, a hard truth slipped out in a very subtle way:
Not only do many of us want to be close, but not too close, to principal cities, we want to be near interstates.
What's so subtle? Well, the truth that comes out is that many, I would say most, living in the exurbs around Cincinnati are searching for some time of perfect flux of life, where everything is available to them. They want the little town to live in, but want a life line of the big city’s excitement once in a while to break up the monotonous life. They problem is, that they can’t have their cake and eat too. They can’t just neglect the city, except when they want to go to a game, and expect everything to be perfect, or forget going. If you want something to be there for you, you have be there for it, and those living the city are escaping their ill found fears for the faux safety and prosperity of the exurbs.

The other subtly to read into the line “but not too close” rings of socio-economic bigotry (or even more subtly a slight racial bigotry). The cultural milquetoast world that is the exurbs is what I believe is a reactionary desire for Boomers (and a growing number of Xers) to relive the small community feel they grew up in, where everyone knew everyone in their neighborhood, nothing changed, and people lived happily ever after, without fear or at least in the denial of the existence of fear. Well, except the fear of outsiders.

It is as if TV fiction were their guides to living. Be it the cliché of Leave it to Beaver or the modern cultural pariah of Reality TV. Reality TV even has been accepted by many as a sense of “living.” If they can’t risk escaping the blandness of the same houses with different colored SUVs in the driveways, then why not live out extreme make-overs on television, where you only risk missing out on some other program selling you the latest way become something you are not, and never will be.

It is sad. It is what I think is really killing culture in America. The exurbs reject most of original culture coming form the city, and instead consume the national diet of marketed mainstream media product. In the city people are making their own art, music, dreams, and lives. We still get fed off of much of the same media diet, but we also don’t limit it to the media that is out to feed off us, not feed us. If the exurbs started interacting with the culture in the city and maybe celebrating where they live by creating home grown media ideas, or just simply not worrying about how close you are to the city, their lives might be enriched a little. A little change can go a long way, even for a desperate housewife living out in Mason. Interacting with the City of Cincinnati is the only thing that makes it worth while living near it. If the exurbs don’t do that, and do it often, they will become what I fear will be the intellectual ghetto of the 21st Century America, if it is not there already.

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