Your Life is a Contest

I am so into the Automotive X Prize. If you haven’t heard of it, the X-ers manage a foundation that awards multi-million dollar prizes to anyone who can successfully complete their challenges. The automotive prize goes to the first team to build a super efficient, clean and affordable car. The website lists an intriguing quote by Lester Brown: “Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.”

Could a prize-based economy redefine the American Dream? The average person’s career is now likely to be a contest, and you have a better chance of winning something than hustling for it. Want to be a musician? Americna Idol. Want to dance? Dancing with the Stars. Interested in cooking? Top Chef. Be an astronaut? X Prize (or Richard Branson is your BFF). Own a restaurant? Hell’s Kitchen. Travel the world? Amazing Race. Learn how to manipulate your friends? Survivor. Learn how to manipulate yourself? Fear Factor. They are game shows gone awry…extending beyond a fantasic half-hour and defining our very existence.

But not that it’s a bad thing at all, since classic corporate structure is broken completely. Reseach and development has barely any meaning. A scientist can’t be an artist because most research is privately funded with marketing goals and target audiences in mind (especially in medicine….its sickitating). The major label music industry is run by deaf dinosaurs, so an artist can barely be an artist for the same reasons. And then you hear about the notion that US car companies have had the patents for the electric car for decades but squashed them because they would devalue the US market’s dependence on oil. Conspiracy? Maybe not so much…

It’s a little mind blowing how elite ecological living is. It doesn’t make any sense at all, but you have to be rich to live “off the grid.” It’s the old adage: “You have to spend money to make money,” well apparently you also have to spend money to save money (and the world, incedentally). I would love to line our roof with solar panels, and ditch the regular car for a hybrid, but that shit is expensive, yo!

And holy frig do Americans have A LOT of disposable income (that they generally spend on themselves, not their fellow man because that’s the American way). The disparity is amazing: there are so many really poor people in the US, working for minimun wage and basically keeping the country’s infrastructure running, while there’s also a really big population of people who literally have money to burn. I was watching one of these shows where they follow some American family’s home renovations, and this one family — who were not, like, really rich but just kind of rich — must have spent $50,000 redoing their basement into a bar/rec room. And it was ugly and selfish when it was done. So bring this idea back to the X Prize, and how easy it would be to raise a 10 million dollar purse, and the potential it lends to the future?

I guess we just have to hope that the humanity the X-Prize trustees are working towards helping isn’t an exclusive humanity. Yes, that’s right, that’s how much faith I have in my fellow man. I suppose if I could believe for a second that other people lived selflessly and for the greater good then I wouldn’t be such a cynic. Sadly my life has intersected with many people who clearly loved money most of all, and who had forgotten about Love itself.

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5 thoughts on “Your Life is a Contest

  1. I understand your cynicism, I get that way myself sometimes but the mere fact that you post something like this flies in the face of it. There are alot of selfish people out there, there are alot of selfish people who don’t even know that they’re selfish but every year in Toronto there is a huge outpouring for the Daily Bread Food Bank and this year when there was a threat of the Parkdale Food Bank going under people rallied to the cause. I was at a fundraiser at the Caddilac Lounge last Sunday and despite the brutal weather and cars getting stuck in the snow all over the place, and poor visibility etc., it was a full house and only one of the ten bands cancelled. There have been two more fundraisers since and from what I understand there are six more planned already and permanent committees set up to insure it keeps going. So, as of this moment, it looks like a food bank that was going to go under a month ago is not only going to survive, it’s going to get bigger and expand it’s services. This is just one small example but if it would make you feel better I could find thousands more.

    So yes there are selfish people, there are defeated people who don’t see a point in trying but there are also alot of people who are trying and doing what they can to improve things, even if it’s only just a little, and all of this without any prize at the end.

    Also, quickly, I’ve gotten a strong response to this:

    http://crp.publicbroadcasting.ca/

    Which would make the arts much less of a contest and much more about having being rewarded for having good ideas and being able to connect with an audience.

    I’m not saying there aren’t problems, or that they aren’t big and serious, or that there aren’t people out there who could do more. I’m just saying don’t lose site of the millions of people who are still trying to make it better.

    Happy holidays Natalia (whatever that means to you).

    -Justin

    p.s. a few more links just for fun

    Santa Likes Rich Kids Better – Young & Sexy
    http://www.song-a-day.com/2007/12/young-sexy-santa-claus-likes-rich-kids.html

    Ricky Gervais in Africa

    =)

  2. Excellent!

    I agree that many people aren’t aware of how self-centered their lives are. And there are still many people trying to do whatever they can to better the world.

    Why do you think I choose to never leave my house?

    No hope before destruction, I say.

  3. cool entry, i enjoyed! … i think the contests type shows are kinda a lowest common denominator of each subject. kinda entertaining at times though, can’t deny that hahah. it would be cool to have a true battle of the bands/songwriting competition on tv. instead of just a glorified karaoke competitions. but once you get announcers,judges, thelights tha whole shabang.. it kidna takes away from it all anyways. i say bring back jono-visions conveteted golden ear award …i remember watching that after grade school lol…

    you and murry should check out the movie “who killed the electric car” if you haven’t already. its a great watch, talking about how they did have a viable, sellable and marketable electric car and GM squashed the whole thing… really cool flick. 🙂 … cheers, happy holidays
    Jesse

  4. Natalia,

    I enjoyed the post. Cynical, yes. Perhaps the world needs a bit more cynics. Living in the US, I can tell you, there are a lot of people who feel the same way. Our country has been rolled back 8 years, because of some dumb cowboy puppet.

    We get so depressed, so frustrated, because we see how much better this world can be. Thus we are bound by our own guilt, our own indulgences, our own unableness.

    Keep spreading the word. Inspire action. Educate.

    Hope is a thorn stuck in our hearts.

    PS – I hope Neptune is enjoying the snow (is she old enough?)

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