If the Mayan Apocalypse Had Happened, Times Square Would Have Been One of the Signs.

"We don't care! And we know you don't care either! We don't care that you don't care, and we know that you don't care that you don't care that we know that you don't care!"

“We don’t care! And we know you don’t care either! We don’t care that you don’t care, and we know that you don’t care that you don’t care that we know that you don’t care!”

 

“Look, Honey! The M&M store!”

“Wow, Sweety, that’s amazing! Waddle over there and I’ll take a picture! I’d like to buy one of those sweat-shop-made T-shirts at great expense, and thus turn my vast, swollen body into a free billboard for a mass-produced candy product!”

“Great! We came all this way to New York, basically because coming here is just a thing people do. But now I feel validated by an imposing edifice, which despite its phenomenal rent is familiar and unchallenging!”

“That’s it, Sweety! Times Square was once an epicenter of culture and danger, art and seediness, enterprise and poverty; but fortunately that’s all gone. What makes me feel good now is seeing something as ridiculous as a gargantuan temple to M&Ms! By analogy this inflates the whole tawdry little microcosm of our lives into something that might be big and important!”

“I love M&Ms, Honey!”

“Me too, Sweety! And I loved them before they had a superstore or anything!”

“And now we have a photograph of ourselves with their focus-group designed mascot, and a glossy shopping bag covered with their images!”

“Don’t forget the T-Shirt! It goes well with our other vacation clothes: athletic-team branded caps, knee-length shorts, over-designed puffy sneakers, and outdoorsy adventure accessories — like this water-bottle holder with a shoulder strap! We look like obese 10-year-old sports fans on a safari!”

“You know, there’s probably some kid in that yellow M&M suit, judging us. He wants to be an actor and thinks he’s all above it and ironic. But I’m ironic and judgmental too! I mean, he’s a giant M&M!”

“Yes Honey, we’re all here ironically! In the popular, modern usage of the word, irony means intentional alienation from important ideas and empathy… to ostentatiously not care about truth, or beauty. The choice to remain unconscious!”

“Unconscious? Ideas? Do you mean… Is there anything happening in the world that we, as privileged Americans, should know about or take responsibility for?”

“Not that I am really aware of, Sweety!”

“Great! And look where we are now! I’m sure not feeling ironic about the Hard Rock Café! It’s connected in my mind to celebrity: the highest form of authenticity and reality! The teams of psychologists that designed this restaurant chain did their job well!”

“They sure did! Yet its very materiality — the fact that it exists architecturally as a thing — makes it seem less real somehow. Look! There are human handprints on the glass, and ordinary-looking fat people inside eating chicken wings and wiping their fingers on napkins.”

“I know, Sweety. It’s like the kid in the M&M costume, whose individual biological and emotional life, inside the costume, begins to stir feelings of both compassion and contempt in me. It makes me uncomfortable.”

“It’s better on TV!”

“Exactly! Our alienation from the natural world is nearly complete. Just look at our bodies!”

“I’m going to change the subject now!”

“Whew!”

“So, what show should we see? I mean, we are here on Broadway, Honey! It’s nothing we would ever choose to do on our own, but we have to see a real show!”

“Yes! We have to! It’s part of the tourist narrative, and we always follow the narrative, because we are very obedient in that way!”

“Very! We Obey! And we spew sentiment, avarice, piety, outrage, patriotism, enthusiasm, and fear, on demand, like some kind of television-operated vending machines!”

“Don’t forget irony! We also spew prefabricated irony!”

“I almost forgot that one, Honey!”

“But Sweety! What if these shows are art? What if they trouble us without letting us know exactly what we are supposed to think and feel?”

“Gosh they wouldn’t do that… would they? Let’s see: There’s one show here based on an 80s pop band. It’s a musical! And there’s one musical, based on a 1970s TV show. That’s so ironic! I feel like I’m in on the joke, which will help me embrace its essential mediocrity! And then there’s that one based on that very popular movie franchise! There are multiple musicals based on Disney movies, too!”

“Wow! Those aren’t threatening at all! Is there anything about M&Ms?”

“No, Honey, but that’s a great idea! Hey, there are three different Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals!”

“Perfect! I don’t even know the names of the shows, but I already know what I’m going to feel!

“I love New York!”

 

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