Winning the Future (Obama, Kevin Smith, Steve Niles, and DIY)

Brandon Essay


“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.”

Intended as a sound bite, “Winning the Future” is pretty lame. The zen side of me desires nothing more than to point out the logical fallacies therein, Your future is an abstract concept created by man’s perception of an unobservable illusion. All that matters is Reality, the present moment. What’s to be won, President Obama? In your own words, ‘It just doesn’t make sense’. Yada. Yada. Yada. But words are only words, and intent is truth.

Obama and his writers set out to inspire CHANGE in not only the wrinkly-old-white-dudes in Washington, but in individual Americans. Granted his vision lacks the pizazz of JFK’s Space Race, which I’d love to see, because I like the idea of shooting things and people into space. But sometimes pizazz is just fluff, masking the practical nitty-gritty. You can probably tell, if you’ve read any of my work, I’m not really keen on politics, but I love to be inspired, evidenced by the fact that I sign all of my email’s with the quasi-truth, “Always Inspired”.

I’m a dreamer. And from time to time, I place a li’l stock in the good ole American Dream, which really should be more than a nice house and a couple of cars. We’ve evolved past that. There’s something deeper in that Dream, and it’s time to reinvent. Obama said it, too.

“That’s what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves.”

Obama wants us to reinvent our nation, but the keyword was ‘ourselves’. Words and phrases like ‘innovation’, ‘revolution’, ‘rules have changed’, ‘for the sake of an idea’, ‘sacrifice’, and ‘struggle’ are often used to bring together droves of the mindless in pursuit of ideology. And sure, there’s a li’l bit of that, but Obama’s speech highlighted the individual. His words didn’t have the weight and power of Ask Not, but the intent was the same.

What’s funny? Listening to his speech, I heard a punk rock message. He wants a nation of DIY-ers (Do it yourself-ers).

And as I look around at all my influences this week, I’m seeing exactly that. Kevin Smith, the dirty-mouthed filmmaker, pointed at the flaws of an impenetrable studio system last weekend:

Warning kids! Dirty language in the vid. Maybe, you’ll learn something.

[Link No Longer Available]

He came up as an independent filmmaker, only to find himself submerged in the lack of innovation and creativity, courtesy of H-wood. Stepping back, he saw an opportunity to reinvent himself and bought his own film, intending to blaze a path for future indy artists. He might fail. But that’s okay. He’s DIY. He’s innovation. He’s the American Dream.

Steve Niles, comic creator extraordinaire, called for more creator-owned work this week ([Link No Longer Available]). He also tweeted:

All I’m saying is creator-owned comics need to become a little more Punk DIY. Our future is in our hands.

He’s right the future is in our hands. It’s all the same stuff folks. DIY, it’s the way to be. I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m sure you do, as well. I’m going to be rocking some ‘innovation’ and some ‘DIY’ in the coming years. You should, too.

I’d spend more time editing this post and nailing down evidence and eloquence towards my point, but I’ve passed 500 words. Plus, there’s like three references in this post, and some ancillary content that could keep you busy for like thirty minutes. So, I’ll just leave you with some good ole American cheese:

D-I . . . Y? For your country! Now, Let’s Win the Future. ; )