And we need to. Absolutely. We need to, in my opinion, take ourselves off of the radar. We need to go to rehab, that’s what we have to do.
Absolutely. We need to get off of sugars, starches, and cultural starches and sugars. The arts, my god, I really hope with this new administration that something happens with the arts because there is no funding for the arts.
Of course I hope that’s the case, too, especially as a mother. But I’m beginning to doubt that this administration will be much different than previous ones.
But that’s key to a culture’s sense of human being or human experience. You know when you resonate if you’re educated or exposed to cultural elements that enhance your experience. Otherwise, you’re just going to plow through life without any real context and just consume the shit that’s put in front of you. And by consuming that crap, whether it’s cultural or in food substances or fossil fuels, the rest of the world will follow suit and go, ‘Hey, that looks exciting. We’re going to go with that, too!’ The next thing we know, there’s nothing left. For anybody!
I also know there are kids out there who will go to college and become lawyers and doctors just for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses when they are really meant to be brilliant painters, writers, artists.
There are definitely geniuses out there that aren’t being fully realized in that sense. You know, some of our best geniuses are the best video game players in the world. We have kids who are so incredible at video games and processing information. My son, for example, is brilliant at discerning information. The actual brain he has for pulling in information and laying it all out, his reference points are phenomenal. I look at his reference points and go, ‘Fuck. I wish I had that ability to just pull things out.’ But, then again, the gestation of actually understanding the subtext and the experience of a piece of work or cultural object or whatever, the filter to pick things out by sight and sound and smell is there, but the actual ingestion isn’t there. He’s not mature enough to process that and that is human experience. That’s why our elders are so important because they do have knowledge and wisdom and they do tell us. We should also listen to cultures that have been around a lot longer than ours. They have insights to human experience. The idea of children going to school where the curriculum has completely changed, where the curriculum is for the 21st century, where the children are exposed at a very young age to very harsh sexual images, violent images, and drugs are very prominent in our culture and spoken about with more and more increasing irresponsibility, those children need to be educated in a completely different way. They need to be educated in a circle. They should really be preparing these children for all of these cultural hyenas that are out there, predatory cultural elements, and the ability to walk through that jungle and make great choices by introducing them to film and music and literature and how that can enhance their lives with the skills needed to be able to work through things. Show them the consequences of what indulging in sex, cultural drugs, whatever, can do. The idea of having kids, instead of walking into school first thing in the morning and pledging allegiance to the flag, having them practice meditation and yoga, preparing these young people with the tools that are going to serve them to grow up and be productive in our culture…no, absolutely not, we don’t have that. We have a lot of despondent children. My partner, Apolla, she was asked as an actress (she’s a writer and actress in New York), to come in and teach Shakespeare to inner city kids. I actually sat in on a class with her. For the most part, these kids are from mixed ethnic races. The class is pretty unruly and despondent, but she has this amazing gift to pick out these individual kids. She stood up there in front of the class and said, ‘If you do anything today, can you show respect for yourself by showing respect for your fellow students? This work is powerful work. This work is really about what’s happening in your individual life. It deals with violence. It deals with covetousness, oppression, and liberation.’ She went through this speech and turned from these brassy, inner city despondent kids who will probably grow up and do nothing with their lives except sit around and eat sugar, to a really tuned in class. Then she got them up to read Hamlet and it was really compelling. I was sitting there with a lump in my throat going, ‘This is fucking brilliant!’
It’s like all this cultural pornography. It affects us all. I don’t know, maybe I’ve grown into this. My first inclination into this mindset was in my own home when I watched both of my parents die of cancer. They got cancer directly from the steelworks. I don’t want to use the word ‘victim’ but I want to say they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, exposed to a machine that was to feed the automobile industry. I watched how it destroyed my whole family. I guess that’s how my whole awareness of this culture started, and then I started to go into why and what are the solutions. How do I move forward? Then I was exposed to indigenous culture when I was about eleven years old and first moved to Canada. I became obsessed with indigenous culture and my grandmother was in a spiritualist church so I grew up in kind of a pagan household. Then from being in a band and creating Gathering of the Tribes, which is the model for Lollapalooza. So that’s how my cultural work kind of started. From there it became just more research, traveling, Tibet, India, Nepal, all over the Far East, Central and South America. I guess being compelled by my own story of how my family was destroyed and seeing that in other people, empathy came out and that’s what’s been driving me for twenty-five years. Now I find myself where I’ve done so much work on myself, working in psychotherapy, spending my time in Tibet and India, just really wanting to get my foundations solid. It’s not, for me, about recognition. I don’t want to be on the cover of Vanity Fair and all of a sudden I’m an environmentalist for a week, when it suits me. That’s not my gig. My gig is to report what I’ve seen and it drives me. The idea of making Conquest, the film, is just an important mission for me. The idea of exposing what is happening on a daily basis in this culture to these women, is fucking shocking. Do you know that Native American children cannot get adopted? That more people go abroad to adopt from China, but the Native American kids are just sitting there in orphanages.
Do you mean it’s not a bureaucratic matter? It’s preference?
Not desirable. They’re not even exposed to potential adoption. The thing that really sent me off the deep end was I was looking at this little school in Wounded Knee, it’s like Wounded Knee Elementary School. I went on their website and there’s a Christmas wish list. Do you know what they wanted? All they wanted was five copies of Harry Potter. They want to be a part of it, too! I saw that and wanted so much to…I was instantly in tears. Like, ‘My god! Fucking, that’s enough! I’m done. I’m baked! I don’t want your TMZ culture anymore.’ When I see children suffering…There’s this photographer you may be interested in. His name is Aaron Huey. He did a wonderful, wonderful photo exposé on the Pine Ridge Reservation and his images are so powerful. There’s a picture of a little boy sitting in an empty classroom and he’s thrown his teddy bear into the middle of the room. The teddy bear has a leash tied around his neck and the absolute loneliness and sentiment in this picture will drive a knife through your heart. Any person who cannot respond to images like that, I don’t know, I couldn’t even be in the same room with them.