I don't think there's anything that sums up America in its heyday more than the title sequence of Hawaii Five-O.
This was the America that the rest of world loved and loved to hate. Pure insouciant bastard. The music, the bold shots, if testosterone could be transmuted into film it would be that title sequence.
Sure it's just a TV show, a mythology, but mythologies matter. The Hellenic Greeks were vitalized by the Iliad and the Odyssey (as we are today), poems that probably originated from the people they conquered.
The Hawaii Five-O America was also the America that fought an idiotic war in Vietnam, and did plenty of other stupid things. But at least we fucked up with style in those days. Is there anything cool about being herded through rape scanners like sheep at the airport, just to eliminate the miniscule risk of terrorism?
It was also the America that managed to infect much of the world with the lipid hypothesis. Damnit, rest of the world, stop adopting the stupid stuff from America. I take heart in the fact that the Dutch invented reality television.
But I would sum up everything I hate about America these days in one word: fear. Fear of fat, fear of red meat, fear of terrorists, fear of drugs, blah, blah, blah. It really boils down to a fear of thinking for oneself.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration... [Frank Herbert, Dune]Fear is a healthy response to danger and all animals have it in large quantities for a reason. But fear can also be debilitating when it's not balanced with boldness and curiosity.
A country in apogee, like America in the 50s and 60s, is arrogant and cocksure, even while being afraid and building bomb shelters. But America at its height was also open to new ideas and the least of cultural fascists. America these days is just swimming in fear.