To Ban Or Not To Ban

I was embroiled in a debate the other night about Trump’s Muslim ban. I took the anti-ban position. My friend was more pro, and he explained his worry, or belief, was that Muslims would come and overtake this country, install Sharia Law and all other horror stories. First, there are already millions of Muslims in this country now and I haven’t heard of any extremist movements, and I am fairly certain that would make the news somewhere. I also doubt it would play out like that because honestly, do you think the Muslims can outpace the Latinos? The Latino population is set to become the majority in the not so distant future, and even still there will still be other races represented as well and I think our system of government is strong enough to deflect any extremist groups, other than Trump himself, clearly.

Now, I’m not a  bleeding heart begging everyone to think about our Muslim brothers and sisters, but I am saying there’s nothing to be gained with this ban. It’s a piece of totally ineffectual legislation. The bad people are going to come no matter what. They’ll just find another way; and let’s just say Trump gets his way and bans all Muslims. Then what? America is safe forever and we all live happily ever after in a mushroom field? Who will be the next threat to the American way of life? Who’s next on Trump’s hit list? When will this ever end? There is a problem here, but the ban is just a poorly applied band aid. This issue needs to be rooted out on a deeper level and singling out one section of the populace isn’t doing the job.

I was called a ‘white apologist’ for this point of view and while I take exception to it, I think maybe we white folks have a lot to apologize for; if you’ll pardon a brief digression at this point. America is a great nation, but it is not perfect and it has its share of blood on its ‘hands’.  Let’s just be honest okay? First, the ancestors of the Anglo Saxon ascendants- the Puritans, came to this land to escape religious  persecution. Let’s not forget this was ‘illegal immigration’. Of course there were no immigration laws back then, but still, if we’re going to be detailed about this,  it was illegal immigration. Once they landed here, they started persecuting. I guess it wasn’t so much that they hated the persecution, but rather they wanted to be doing the persecuting. They fought the natives and took the land by force and intimidation. They slaughtered the natives and expanded their colonies all in the name of their God. Then they sailed to Africa, kidnapped natives from there and brought them here to enslave and treat as cattle. After a bloody war, the Africans were freed, but still seen as sub-human by a good portion of the country. Then for decades after that, they fought for every right they enjoy today. They had to fight just to be seen as human beings, for God’s sake! Repeat this cycle with every other minority group. Remember the internment camps during WWII? Japanese Americans will  never forget. Has singling out one portion of society EVER solved anything? No. It has always caused more problems and for all this, I think we, as Americans owe the world many apologies. To stand upon our history and delude ourselves into believing everything was done for noble reasons is to openly deny the truth. America’s origins was not some altruistic endeavor, but it included a systematic genocide, enslavement of foreign races and flat out discrimination.

You’d think after all these centuries we’d be better. You’d think we would have learned our lessons but there are still people out there who would rather find simple answers and pick one person or group of people to blame for all the ills of the world. Someone to relieve them of the responsibility that the mess they find themselves in now is of their own making. I think the truly American thing to do is to own up and face the truth. Swaddling yourself in lies only breeds ignorance and hostility. I’m not claiming to know the solution myself, but so far as I’ve seen, this ban is only making things worse and since three of the countries not listed on the  ban are where the terrorists are known to be coming from, I really don’t see how the ban as it is now is going to be effective. This was clearly a power move by a president who knows he has no mandate but insists on flexing his power to put his ‘enemies’ in their place. Instead he’s only firing them up to fight harder. I know Hillary wasn’t a lot of people’s first choice, but no matter what you think of her, there is no way we would be in this quagmire  had she won the electoral vote. I can’t say if we’d be worse off or better off. There’s no way to know, but if these  past 3 weeks are a sample of what the next 4 years are going to be like, I think anything else would be a big improvement.

Last Exit to Riverdale

Okay. I gave this thing a look and I’ll be blunt. I hate it. I hate it soooo much. I’ve never been a big Archie fan in the past, but I’ve always appreciated the value of Archie and the gang. The characters are iconic symbols of a true American art form. I read some of the comics, but mostly I’m familiar with Archie through cartoons. The beauty of Archie always has been as it evolved, the characters stayed the same yet still grew and were more nuanced than many people give them credit for. Archie is the all-American while Betty is the epitome of the girl next door. Veronica was the rich spoiled girl with a heart and Jughead was the consumate slacker while Reggie Mantle was the antithesis of Archie and was always a humorous antagonist yearning to get one over on Archie. The supporting cast of Archie (Principal Weatherby, Ms. Grundy, Pop, etc) were also essential. It seemed no matter how the tides of time would rock the real world, these characters were steadfast and true. Even with the recent comic revamp, the spirit of Archie is being preserved, but updated as well.

Now enter Riverdale. The lastest teen soap from The CW. Forget everything you’ve ever known about Archie because they blew it all out the window. Every character has been taken and dipped in a veneer of darkness and corruption. Archie is sleeping with Ms. Grundy(!?) Kevin Keller is having an affair with Moose on the down low? Oh, and let’s not forget that all of Riverdale is being rocked by a murder. Law & Order comes to Riverdale. None of the characters carry the charm or likability of the originals. Even Archie is kind of a douche in this. I get that they actor playing him is hot as Hell, but for me I need more than eye candy to keep me interested in a tv show. The tragedy of this is it didn’t have to happen. They could have found a way to hold on to the traits that made these characters so timeless. Why couldn’t this show have been more of a comedy, or at least just made with a lighter tone? Maybe it could have dealt with stories about the kids and their lives instead of the lies and affairs they carry on with instead. Wrap it all up with an overarching murder mystery that will slowly envelope everyone. That seems to be the quick recipe. I can’t watch this show without some tinge of sadness as I watch the characters becoming nothing more that teen drama cliches. I must say, Greg Berlanti should be ashamed of himself for being a part of this train wreck. He  had a good start with The Broken Hearts Club, and showed real promise with Everwood; incidentally, a show that had no cheap overused gimmicks and actually put story and character over simple minded sensationalism. After that he just became a hack, putting his name on any piece of junk with a hot cast and a script bloated with strained pop-culture references. He’s kind of the Kevin Williamson of this decade, and I thought he also was a little TOO accustomed writing for this demographic.

I could see an Archie series with a bit more of a benign flavor. Sometimes I think the current generation of teens are such horrors because the media portrays them as such. It’s like it’s instructing them on how to be vapid, terrible people but media outlets say they are just producing content that reflects the generation as it is now. I think back to the hay day of Archie and other teen oriented works, such as the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. They were good kids. Clean cut, law abiding and respectful. I think some kids in the real world were influenced by this because previous generations, while not perfect, had a lot more good eggs than bad. Maybe if we saw teens and characters associated with teens acting better, we’d get better kids. Show them it’s okay to respect the rules, even when you have to bend or break them at other times. Producers of content for television, film and the internet have an exceptional opportunity to set a better example for the current generation. They have their ears and attention. These mediums could be used to help build a better brand of teenager. Instead, they just shoot for the low hanging fruit. I think in general we need to stop celebrating the darker side of humanity and start appreciating the good that there is.

Shows in the past were much more uplifting in my opinion. I watch old episodes of The Munsters, for example, and there’s no family like them on TV now, and not in the obvious way. Two loving parents, a precocious kid and a lovely young woman living in the same house, but they don’t fight and drag each other down. In general many shows from that era and all the way up to the eighties seemed to have a positive spin on the world, maybe in hopes of projecting a better world. Now, the biggest hit shows are shows that celebrate the worst of us. It seems like the worse the characters are, the better the show is viewed. As this trend has continued, I’ve also noticed how shitty the real world has  become. People have become more rude, more inconsiderate and just more obnoxious. I feel there is some connection. It’s like these shows give some kind of permission to people to be bad. Like being terrible is a good thing. I think people have confused being yourself with being an asshole.

So, in conclusion, I hate the new ‘Riverdale’ show. Sorry for the side trip. I know people are gulping it up like crazy and I guess I’m just one man against the great wave of public opinion. I just thought the show could be more than just another ‘90210’ or ‘Vampire Diaries’. They could have made something really different and wonderful and shown the world that quality entertainment doesn’t have to be so negative and dark. I think the show really betrays the principles and spirit of Archie and his friends. I think if they had just changed all the names, they could have just had a brand new, original drama, but I guess they wanted to drag Archie’s good name and reputation down into the mud with them.