American Life Subtext
When I heard the premise of the show Weeds; “Lots of drugs, lots of sex,” I kind of wanted to skip it. Thankfully my wife suggested we give it a shot and since we both love Dexter, what the heck, let’s watch it. I had never expected it to be the social commentary that I am starting to find out it is. It has even opened a can of worms for me. I have resisted the urge to talk about this subject for a while, as much as I resist the subject of children and atheism… because most people will just not get where I am coming from.
I am lucky, I am 1 in a billion lucky. When I talk about my wife, most people think I am just scoring brownie points. Finding an intelligent woman that also happens to have the same cultural background with me is amazing. Some things you can explain, others you just have to live and even though we grew up in the same city we have very different experiences about Colombia. She gets all my obscure references to stuff from Colombia and now understands the gaming community, better yet she is part of it. Even though we share so much, there is also a lot of differences and a lot to discover and learn from each other. The part that is important for this conversation is that she is also very naive about American culture. Living in Canada made her think that Americans and Canadians are pretty much the same in a lot of ways… here is where subtext enters the conversation. The whole idea of the American dream is so different for all Americans that at times it feels weird that so much goes into a single idea.
Weeds is a show about a wife that loses her husband to a heart attack and to keep up with her suburbia lifestyle starts dealing marijuana… “weed.” We are watching this together and I commented to her that most American people think Colombia is all about the “drugs” but never understand that we are really not consumers of that product. Colombians are more about the drinking and dancing than doing pot hidden in the basement of a house. Consuming mind altering substances is more open and part of partying than hidden illegal activity. I guess what can you expect when most people think you fly with chickens and pigs right next to you on the plane when you go down there. I have laughed at all the ignorant people that think just because I am Colombian I can “score” them drugs. I love leading them on. What they don’t often realize is that I do know who can get them what they want, but it has nothing to do with my ethnicity and all to do with me being able to spot the people with the “connections.”
Drugs are part of the American subtext that most people either chose to not see, or don’t know how to discern. The big difference between drugs and alcohol is the legality of it. I have cut back quite a bit on my drinking mostly for health concerns; but hey, it is legal and I like being able to enjoy a beer in a public place. That does not mean that I have not been able to see more drugs here in the US than what I ever saw in Colombia. I also happen to know lots of people that are regular drug users and are your neighbor, coworkers or friends, and most of you probably don’t have a clue or know how to tell.
That is what makes the show Weeds so funny. It reminds me a lot of the people that simply don’t see the fact that most people are not made from ticky tacky and live in little boxes. (BTW that song is pretty cool.) The sad part is that I have seen many, many people trying to live the rat race to live like those people, or at least appear to live like those people that have a “perfect” life. They look down upon the guy with the tattooed face, but fail to realize how free he is and how cool he is with the decision that he will not get a corporate type of job.
Here is where our view of society breaks down. Most people spend more time trying to live in the subtext part of life rather than actually being true to who they really are. In Colombia we call that “El Qué Dirán”
The unspoken belief in latin-american culture that every person’s actions in society are subject to the scrutiny and criticism of every person they know. El Qué Dirán is a way to regulate the behaviors of the fringes of Latin America, by concentrating the disapproval of their parents and friends through gossip. Often invoking the health of said parents as a criticism “Did you hear about Rosa getting pregnant? By that artist boy. Her mother must be near death!” – Typical El Qué Dirán gossip.
Where the whole thing changes is that it’s not as simple as “keeping up with Johnsons” anymore. It’s all about saving face in a high school like fashion. Probably one of the reasons I never really got into the whole twitter thing and kept mine private. I hate the fact that people are waiting to see what you say to “one up” you online. Always trying to say, “I know more than you!” or the synergy of your gravitational veritas diverges from the core of your bullshit. In reality, most of those people have never reached the simple conclusion you are thought in any good philosophy course, that you really don’t know much… and the more you learn, the more you realize that you don’t know anything at all.
People start living a life that is just a facade to maintain their perceived “social status”. Much like the exclusive community being painted in the show “Weeds.” It has to be a sad moment in someone’s life when they realize they are not living for themselves but living the picture of what other people think they should be like. Who are you working to impress this week? Did you buy that shirt because you like the color and the texture of the material or is it the new trend. (which reminds me I still have to post about how much I hated my last “trendy” pair of glasses.)
I have no idea how many people are that blind. Most people that are worth your time in this life are not posers and are pretty comfortable with who they are. The perfect mother in “Weeds” whose husband is sleeping with someone else and kids hate her, is the perfect example of someone that is delusional about the true subtext. To me the subtext of America and the American Dream should be about happiness… but then again, the best country in the world does not seem to be all that happy at all.