Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Exploding Zombies

Excellent word, that. A word that conveys a world of meaning in two short syllables; the notion that within the knowing of something can be an even deeper, more penetrating knowing. A larger picture - hidden from most, available only to the intuitive, the discerning and the perceptive.
Just ask Geo Bush. (The ll) In today's paper I read the erstwhile Commissionaire-of-Baseball-in-waiting (he admitted the post was his most fervent wish, President of the United Staes coming a somewhat distant and disappointing - tell me about it! - second) has predicted "grim days ahead" for American and Allied troops. It is his judgement he said, that the original deadline of June 30th for a turnover of the sovereignty of the troubled country will not be extended. The widespread violence of the past few days, the worsening situation on the ground, will likely require the attendance of additional US troops in the war torn region as military planners consider a "tougher response".
Said Bush: "The message to the Iraqui citizens is that they don't have to fear the Americans will turn and run."
They may fear being accidentally bombed, blown up, maimed or murdered, but concern that Americans will leave them alone can safely be put on the back burner.
The violence and death of the past weekend has provided the resolve Bush needed to send more young Americans to their death - he considers the looming June deadline to have provided a convenient "excuse" for the attacks. His response: more troops, more bloodshed, more death.
That's the President's insight.
But the leader of the western world is so often on the money long after the bill has been paid. The current September 11th hearings (Thursday Condie's at the mike - cancel your lunch dates and consider brown bagging it in front of the staff room TV) are a perfect exercise in stale-dated barn door closing. Listening to Presidential advisors tip toe up to the wavery line between stupidity and sheer bloody-minded defiance of the facts, illustrates to perfection the mood and mode of communication between security experts and those with a more Presidential agenda.
"We were on top of things but had no idea an attack was on its way"; "The head of counter terrorism wouldn't know what we were thinking - we conscientiously kept him out of the loop"; "Afghani extremists Al Quaeda crashed the planes into the twin towers, but there's a perfectly logical explanation for our then attacking a country that had nothing to do with it, except that where we once supported the evil dictator, now we don't and I'd tell you all about it, but unfortunately it's top secret, but trust me, it's good" and so on, and so forth, and on and on ad nauseum.
And while all of this is happening, the President uses apocalyptic 9/11 footage as a backdrop to his re-election campaign advertisements.
What the President is saying: "Tragedy, sadness and the American flag; we all came together in anger and despair and I just happened to be President at the time."
What we hear: "You're so stupid, you'll actually vote for me for doing nothing about before, and nothing about after this hideous nightmare of death and loss (except of course sending more of your children to massacre and be massacred), in fact you'll vote for me even when I remind you of it."
Tell me - is there a guy with a big hat (In This Style 10'6) and a rabbit and a little girl in a pretty blue party dress around here somewhere? Because I smell a Mad Hatter's Tea Party.
A little insight all my own came to me last night during a break in The Daily Show. Waiting patiently for the object of my affection (Jon Stewart) to return centre-screen, I was sort of mindlessly watching the advertisements, when all of a sudden, a zombie exploded in hideous, animated detail. This was followed by the splattering of a giant eyeball, a series of fiery explosions, some gunfighting and what looked like a scene from Night of the Living Dead. Hate, fear, killing, mayhem and murder was the message - and the messenger was a new video game.
The ad worked: it got my attention.
But who, I thought to myself, are we kidding? Allowing adults, let alone children, view, let alone play with such a thing is pure madness. It's horrible. it's filled with cruelty and thoughtless, vicious bloodshed, as well as anatomically correct destruction and virtual vivisection. No one watching this over and over (and practicing to get good doing it better) could not be affected by this pornography for the tortured soul.
And it's a popular game.
Just a short generation ago, we were haunted by episodes of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. (I can still scare myself silly thinking about the one where the little girl turns into a doll. My sister - 46 years young - cannot be in the same room when The Wizard of Oz comes on; she still goes into paroxysms when the flying monkeys appear.) This generation gets bombarded with hideous violent images in the name of play. And their parents are bombarded with similar images in the name of the nightly news.
My point - and I do have one - is that we all know this is wrong. All of it. But we do nothing about it.
And somehow, the discussion gets turned into duelling statistics; one side with absolute proof violence begets violence, the other with directly opposing stats suggesting it does nothing other than improve hand/eye coordination. Still other groups muddy the waters with concerns about too much sex in the media - and you come to a place where a naked black breast during a violent sport spectacular obscures the real obscenity of a loathsome war a few thousand miles and a world away.
My first insight (not an original one, but an insight all the same) is that violence begets numbness to violence, which begets boredom to violence, which in turn begets more violence. We steep our children in a broth of brutality and assault called 'gaming' and we leave them to it while we go to another room to watch the news on TV.
Which leads me to my second insight: I predict a Republican landslide.

No comments: