From a Night I Couldn’t Sleep

To judge us by our television, every American lives in either New York City, Los Angeles, or an ideal, sepia-toned Midwest. No one lives in a rundown area of Tuscaloosa. No one is from August, ME. There are no Canadians. No hippies survive who haven’t sold out or gone batshit. Everyone is upper-middle-class.

Being single indicates a deep, remedial personal failing. No one is vague about their relationships. Your 20s are nothing but sex, sex, sex. Your 30s are for having babies.

Every house is decorated. Everyone shops at Ikea. Men wear layered shirts. Big hair and pornstar makeup are “in.”

All Asians are smart. No Indians are married. American Blacks are either smart, married (and upper-middle-class) or shooting at each other. There are no Blacks from other countries. No one has ever seen a Philippino. Blue collar people are honest but not very bright, and of no particular importance unless you’re in danger.

Everyone knows one gallery artist, and one architect. Faith is absolute and uncomplicated. Sexuality is binary, conscious, and fixed, even if you’re a teenager. No one has to consider health insurance. No one considers abortion. Considerate people are either doormats or substitute mothers. Everyone takes taxis.

Crime rates are rising. America is full of pedophiles. All Muslims are moral absolutes. Everyone knows exactly what to do at all times, they’re just not sure they have the courage to do it. This is America on television.

I’d like to change all of this. I hope you do too.