Home > Entertainment, Life, Politics, Would I Lie? > Losing Control of Good Intentions

Losing Control of Good Intentions

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone… They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot….” — Joni Mitchell

Doesn’t it always seem to happen that, what seemed like a good idea at the time mutates into a monster once others catch on?

Take Tiger Woods, for example (if there’s still a piece of him left in the scrap heap that his life is rapidly becoming). I try like heck not to get caught up in media frenzies, but if I’m going to partake of any media, I have little choice. The news is everywhere….

This phenomenal young talent was thrust into the spotlight well before he was mature enough to handle it and we have the gall to chastise him for being immature. Now he’s gone and done what so many celebrities fall prey to by involving himself in “relations outside of marriage”.

And then there’s my friend Sarah Palin who has everything Janet Reno didn’t: good looks, charisma, star power. But in contrast, she lacks everything Janet Reno had: brains, education, experience. Palin is a feminist’s worst nightmare, even though she represents in some ways all the things that feminists fought for the freedom to be.

This is where the mutation happens.

In one of my previous lifetimes (I’m living them all concurrently in this one), I was a sales rep for a natural products distributor to independent natural food stores. The old hippies had found a way to create a socialistic system of acquiring whole and organic foods to share among their friends and neighbors. But as with all such good ideas, people grew weary of those late night clandestine meetings where they’d split up 100-pound bags of flour and scoop thick oily peanut butter into containers. Like most average Americans, they decided they just wanted to be able to go into a store and buy it like normal people did. So they opened retail store fronts in an effort to change the world and get people to start eating healthy food.

Still, they were on the fringe. Those so-called “normal” people wouldn’t dream of setting foot in such an establishment, often dingy, dirty, smelling of incense. They struggled to attract customers in order to sell the quantities of products necessary to be able to get the best prices. Antithetical to their mission, they ended up throwing a lot of stuff away.

But then things changed. Someone finally figured out that the only way to get people to eat healthy food was to offer it to them in a way that felt familiar — in a big grocery store format. Suddenly, people who would never have considered eating tofu or wheat germ were exploring these venues. Sales started to boom.

The dirty little stores cried foul. “Hey, this was our idea!” they complained. “WE were going to change the world!” Little did they know that they had changed the world but not in the way they’d intended. It was the existence of these big stores that helped the little ones survive by exposing the public to products they would never have known about. In turn, they created a demand that allowed suppliers to lower prices so that shoppers could more easily purchase the better quality food. People then started exploring the little stores and enjoying the personal service they couldn’t get at the big stores, as long as the little ones were able to remove the giant chips they had developed on their shoulders and take advantage of the free advertising. Not all could do it.

Back in my present life, I look at the conundrum that is Sarah Palin and wonder, Where did feminism go wrong? How did our good idea get hijacked?

The days of defiant fist-waving are over. Victoria’s Secret now has to rely on the sale of lacy undergarments to powerful, confident women who actually wear them rather than burn them. Untamed body hair no longer represents solidarity but rather, “ewwww!”…. We’ve gotten what we wanted — so why are we mad that a woman is being taken seriously as a politician despite the fact that she looks like Yukon Barbie?

Because of the mutation factor.

What started out as good intentions about changing the world has come to fruition but not the way we imagined it would. It’s not the crunchy-granola, sea-salt-of-the-earth version we envisioned. Instead, it’s an antiseptic, shiny floored, health department monitored example of everything we were working against.

If you’ve ever eaten a piece of organic fruit, if you made it past the often repulsive-looking exterior, you know the flavor, nutrients, and sense of holistic care for yourself and the planet cannot possibly be matched by a shiny, blemish-free, dye-colored specimen.

Maybe, like the big box natural food stores, Sarah Palin has hit on something we’ve been ignoring. People want packaging. They want to be surrounded by safe walls, whether they are churches, stores, or ideas. They’ve grown accustomed to a certain level of assurance that the food they eat, the politicians they elect, come with a reasonable guarantee of “good looks and cleanliness”. They are entranced by shiny objects….

But most of us will never get past this need for packaging. We won’t experience the substance and depth of character to be found in the quiet, unassuming person (or the intense flavor of an ugly-ass apple) who will not hog the spotlight, who will not erase the rough edges for the sake of popularity, who will not wear a recognizable uniform. We won’t feed ourselves with the nutrients that ensure long-term good health for ourselves or our country. Instead, we’ll continue to stuff ourselves with the empty calories found in the ostensibly beautiful.

And most of us will never know the pressure of excessive media attention, the merciless scrutiny of a pathetic public desperately wanting to think that there’s more underneath that lovely exterior, unrepentantly digging into the dark recesses of our lives and daring to be disappointed at what they find. Tiger Woods will never know what it’s like not to be there, and Sarah Palin will forever change the way we see feminism — Dammit!!

  1. Claven
    December 4, 2009 at 12:28 am

    But do people actually take her seriously? There’s a lot of talk about how if she plays her cards right people may begin to start taking her seriously.
    But after her interviews with Katie Curic and her problems with understanding geography, and, of all things- politics- can anyone take her seriously? The problem with her isn’t so much that she’s so Anne Coulter-esque in terms of taking advantage of the fact that the world isn’t run according to her beliefs- the problem is that the presidency would be a paid vacation for a pretty girl because her advisors would have to make all her decisions due to the fact that she knows nothing about politics.

  2. Mama Nance
    December 4, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I really like this one and it extracts a confession from me. It took me way too long to stop being fooled by shiney packaging. I’ll never know what I missed out on with the rusty, nicked up people I passed over. It’s good to be reminded of it. Now I’ll go say my 10 Hail Marys and 15 pushups.

  3. May 10, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Firstly, I’m laughing because it’s lunch and I just cracked open my organic apples, compliments of Costco, a big box store. I even photographed it and posted it on FB (because I really have nothing clever to say today–just staying in touch). That said, you make a good analogy: I can’t imagine being Sarah Palin all day. Worse, I can’t imagine someone like her having to learn the ropes of intense media scrutiny. However, my mind wanders to our “darling” new trustee, Andrae Gonzales, who’s campaign I worked on. Now that he’s at this school board stuff 25/7, I am delighted with the results of his excellent labors. I also pray for him daily, worried that as he works his way up in politics, the media monster may get him, ruin him, destroy him–say what you will. I can only rejoice in his current good looks and good works, and send silent prayers to him on him political journey. Yeah, I try not to worry. Thanks for your thoughts. Good stuff.

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