Congratulations, America! You thought your future was going to look like The Jetsons, or even StarTrek, but, sorry, no. If we had to pick a classic television series that matched the impending doom of American family life, we’d have to refer to the magnificent Addams Family.
The Addams family was modelled on a peculiar seam of American society— those incredibly rich and somewhat eccentric aristocrats or industrial tycoons who find themselves suddenly bereft of wherewithal. The family fortune got sucked into a vortex—perhaps an economic depression, or a war, or Grandpa’s gambling problem—never to return. What to do?
If we were to watch such creatures as specimens in a petri dish, we’d often observe the following developments:
- The self-esteem doesn’t diminish one whit. They were superior to everyone before the crash and they’re superior now, even though they have nothing and are quite useless.
- The one negative element of their financial distress is a sense of tragedy that morphs slowly into a morbid preoccupation with death and dying. This makes them creepy.
- Because they’re superior, they must not work. They can’t go out and get jobs. Any efforts to do so would be disastrous.
- They simply can’t bring themselves to give up their ancestral homes to live somewhere decent, and so they remain in grand chateaus that they can’t afford to look after and act as if it’s normal to fall through the floor.
- They don’t know how to clean or fix anything, and if they did they’d pretend not to (it would reflect badly on their superiority). And so they let the garbage and foul smells accumulate while they sit idly about, looking at old photos and reflecting on the good old days, surrounded by piles of empty tuna cans and ice cream containers. (Should I mention that they’re also severely malnourished?)
- Because they indulged in the occult and in certain bizarre practices when they were rich they continue to do so now, only such things seem weirder in a dark old mansion that’s always creaking and groaning.
- Because they can’t afford to buy new clothes when theirs wear out they’re obliged to ransack the attics for the ballgown Great Aunt Titania wore at her coming out party in Saint Petersburg, or the camel hair coat Great Grandfather used to wear to senate hearings. They wear them with pride, and don’t give a hoot about the smell of mothballs.
Thanks to the current (ahem) situation, this set of conditions no longer seems to apply to just a small minority of American families. America was considered great once, and perhaps still is, but it’s now also seen as a nation in decline, a nation that has endured a shocking loss of its true wealth: justice, equality, human rights, education, and civic responsibility. And yet we still see you Americans going blithely about their business, as if to say:
“Sure, we’ve lost everything, but we’re still alive, and we’re going to stay in our rotting house until it falls down around our ears, because that’s who we are!”
It’s not so bad. You don’t have to work anymore, because work is pointless. You don’t have to clean up after yourselves because you don’t know how, and it’s not your fault that your servants are being taken from you. You can happily indulge in all the decadent habits you’ve become addicted to over the years—video games, canned whipped cream, tobacco, television, opioids, porno, football, and beer. The infrastructure is rotting around you and for all your high breeding and opulent history you don’t seem to be able to stop it.
So enjoy. And happy Halloween.