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Over Independence Day weekend, I re-watched “The Aviator,” a film loosely organized around Howard Hughes’ life. But this time I noticed something different. I found it in the cutting room scraps and actor prater on the DVD.

I didn’t find “it” directly. The people making the film would never recognize “it.”

“It” is about why Howard Hughes’ age was one of American supremacy – even through the Great Depression years. And why today is the age of American malaise.

Today we don’t have industrial and creative geniuses like Hughes – because we’ve destroyed them. Ritalin for little boys – because we want to make the teacher’s job easier. Fairy tales about life for little girls – because we want to believe the lie that men and women are really the same.

Gone, too, is the age of corporate risk-taking. Shareholders and Wall Street relentlessly punish risk, while they reward short-term profits, even if those profits come from juggling the books.

Howard Hughes would never be tolerated today. Ours in the age of slick accountants, product liability lawyers (but it can’t be my fault!) and sound-bite politicians who think destroying the rich will somehow – they don’t know and can’t articulate how – make life better for the poor.

Yes, it was “The Aviator” backstory. Actresses speaking almost reverently about playing, well, other actresses from a bygone age. Today we make films about the geniuses of an age only a few generations ago – because we have nothing comparable in the collective experience of our age.

An actress praters on about how proud she is to play … another actress. And the actors’ lionize a figure they have themselves conspired to destroy through their political pandering, vacuous thought and idle words.

Roll the cameras. But no one is watching. There’s no story here to tell.

Go along to get along. Everybody has. I hope you like the destination, America.

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