I was listening to NPR's All Things Considered yesterday when a passing comment by movie critic Bob Mondello struck a nerve. What presumably was intended as a review of The International turned into a dismissal of movies that portray corporations behaving amorally in the pursuit of profits.
"In Michael Clayton," he for-exampled, "a lawyer played by Tom Wilkinson despairs, saying he's spent 12 percent of his life 'defending the reputation of a deadly weed killer.'
"Outside the multiplex, though, we tend to think of most of these corporate entities as necessary pillars of society. We need our weed killers, after all; though that doesn't mean we trust the chemical companies that make them."
We need weed killers? Well of course we do. Freedom from dandelions is one of the basic necessities of our modern life. We need weed killers like we need bottled water and disposable razors. Without them we might be reduced to drinking from the tap, sharpening and reusing our straight razors, and even pulling weeds with our own hands!
Therein lies the problem with our modern society. The toxic memes planted in our unsuspecting minds by the subliminal hucksters of Mad Ave (never was there a more appropriate moniker) have driven us to such a constant state of psychological neediness that we can no longer distinguish mere conveniences from real needs. We think it's more important to know which starlet is dating her former gardener than to understand what the chemicals we apply to our own gardens and lawns do to our health and that of our children.