This viral video traveled around the world to a woman physician in Egypt who’s a subscriber to FKTV and who sent it to me. It is at once hilarious and terrifying and it must be quite hideous and mystifying to people who don’t understand American culture.
This clip shows some classic expressions of what I call the American religion of “Positive Thinking” that pervades the culture, to the point where some people espouse it like moronic automatons, as seen here.
The robotic pronouncements and staggering ignorance of these cheery Angelenos is a perfect rejoinder to the equally programmatic, provincial jingoism one sees in documentaries about North Korea.
The American religion has its roots in the New Thought movement of the 19th century, with notable exponents like Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich and later Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking.
It undergirds the booming self-help/self-improvement industry (books, seminars, audio, video products and personal coaching) that generates over $11 billion annually in the US alone.
The self-help industry is criticized as a money-making scam, due to its often simplistic writing and principles. Nevertheless, the findings of many studies on Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) and its effects on health, specifically on people with serious illnesses such as cancer have shown that people with PMA have a significantly higher chance of survival and recovery.
It therefore becomes important to distinguish between a) fostering a Positive Mental Attitude and b) denial, which is a mechanism of the immature mind that conflicts with the ability to learn from and to cope with reality.
But I’m not sure how such distinctions apply to these blissfully ignorant kids on Hollywood Boulevard.