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As the decades pile up for me, post-high school, I find myself disturbed by the … clinging nature of some. In the run-up to our reunion this past summer, I was deluged with messages on Facebook. I felt like I was being stalked in a bad Lifetime (I know; is there any other kind?) movie. Yet I couldn’t quite put my finger on the source of my discomfort.
Fortunately, Laura Ingraham helped me with all that.
In her spicy new book, “Of Thee I Zing: America’s Cultural Decline from Muffin Tops to Body Shots,” the clever political/social commentator explained (just to me, of course) that the moldy reality of social networking is that, for example, “High school reunions usually happen every five or ten years and last a few hours, but on Facebook, it’s like you’re trapped at a reunion forever.”
Zing! That’s it! Thank you, Laura, for articulating why I feel imprisoned in a video game … forever!
Truth be told, I always highly anticipate a new book release from Ingraham, the attorney who also passes the time by being a top radio talk host, bestselling author and permanent guest-host for Bill O’Reilly. I absolutely love satire and funny political commentary, and for my money, no one today is better than Ingraham. In “Of Thee I Zing,” she spotlights some of the absurdities of our culture.
Ingraham points out a huge, “inconvenient truth”: While we obsess about the debt crisis and, to a degree, the terror threat … we are missing the fact that our culture is swirling downward into, as a friend of mine likes to say, “the old Crane fixture.”
When Ingraham walked through a mall, she saw “a man having his eyebrows threaded at a kiosk and a fiftyish woman shoe-horned into a tube top and skinny jeans.” Folks, if anyone can instruct us about our sagging society and entertain us at the same time, it’s this author. It’s like watching “Hoarders” and genuinely feeling empathy for Aunt Sadie and her couple dozen dead, dried cats … and not being able to stop ourselves from watching.
I believe “Of Thee I Zing” serves as a needed (and, yes, entertaining) focus on just how far this great country has fallen in terms of narcissism, gluttony and exercises in pointlessness.
Again, Ingraham possesses a rare combination of old-fashioned values and a stand-up comic’s timing. She notes, among other things, that airplane seats are shrinking as passengers expand; “people meticulously tend their crops in Farmville, while their children eat take-out”; weddings last longer than marriages and celebrities choose bizarre names for their babies (Bamboo, Stetson – why don’t they just use Costanza’s brainchild, “Seven?”).
Ingraham wastes no time holding up a mirror to America’s often awful parenting priorities: “Children are being robbed of their childhood by those who are supposed to love them most. Kids’ lives are over-scheduled and insanely stressful. They’ve barely learned their ABC’s before they’re diagnosed with ADD. Parents’ ‘more is more’ approach often starts well before baby is born and follows the child through college and beyond.”
Ouch. And on point.
There is much to be said for some of the old days, at least, as Ingraham points out. We no longer teach kids our heritage, but rather parents are today busy “ferrying their toddlers to Mandarin and Arabic classes.”
She also points out the sad tendency for lawmakers in Washington to actually listen to vacuous actors ruminate on the state of affairs in Africa and other disasters: “From the looks on the senators’ faces when the stars walk in, you’d swear that John Adams had come back from the dead.”
Of course, in Adams’ day, the idea of shilling for votes and donor dollars from the famous would have been a repulsive thought. Not so in the days “Of Thee I Zing.” And, before I leave the subject of Ingraham’s lampooning of idiot actors pontificating, let me say that she probably shares my belief that the only Clooney I want to hear from is Rosemary on the Boze.
Further, “Of Thee I Zing” serves as a cup of cold water to the face for a selfish society. I think Ingraham’s observations have a chance of pulling at least some from the vortex of creepy self-love.
As she hilariously points out: “Now not only are we searching online for people we know, want to know, or don’t know at all, but we’re desperately trying to find out who’s searching for us. Sites like MyLife.com provide this important service. Memo: Rest easy, no one is searching for you.”
I love this woman! Wow! Isn’t that great? Yes, wake up: You’re not that important!
The realization that you are not the crown jewel in God’s creation is a mindset that made this country great, frankly. Selfless service, sacrifice, concern for one’s fellow man – those were the hallmarks of a great America. I applaud Ingraham for serving not as a life coach spooning Tofu into clients’ mouths, but as Knute Rockne, kicking butts and mocking crybaby players.
Amid all the humor in pointing out our cultural foibles, Ingraham rightly finishes with a look at our spiritual condition: “Faith is a gift – and apparently there are a lot of Americans in the return line.”
She goes on to say there is a hostility toward religious faith (and we all know it’s in the direction of Christianity), and it didn’t exist a few decades ago. A quite disturbing tendency is for “millennials” (18-to-29) describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” This trend, toward eastern religions and away from America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, is perhaps the saddest indicator of where we are.
In “Of Thee I Zing,” Ingraham grabs us by the collar and confronts the “cult” of culture. It is a dead-on portrayal of where we are at.
This is brilliant stuff, folks. Five big stars.