I may have spent too much time outside the small town where I was raised. I may have traveled a bit too extensively and witnessed a few too many hardships, heroes, and unexpected acts of kindness from stranger to stranger. I say this because, very recently, the thought crossed my mind that if I had never stumbled out and tripped about (physically, not on drugs, you loon) like I have in the world, I might be a completely different person. Quite possibly, a bit more isolated than I am. Most likely, a bit more angry.
This summer, we have witnessed some undeniably vicious acts of violence and hatred from a few tormented, angry, and sick humans. I use the term ‘human’ loosely: they seem a bit more like monsters as we learn about them. It is extremely simple to categorize these people as monsters, though, isn’t it? “How could someone do such a thing? What a monster..” We marvel, disgusted and afraid that such a level of explosive hate can be found in our back yards. Forget the movies we watch at night on our cushy couches or inside frigid theatres. That has nothing to do with this!
Can we stop sensationalizing the news and the over-emotionalizing of it as consumers? We are consumers to news organizations that know exactly what we look like as cookie-cutter demographics to whom they pander. One organization speaks directly to one where it’s opposition speaks directly to another group that has been formed and shaped as a contradictory stance. Person is pitted against person. Red Rover, Red Rover, we clutch at our teams so very tightly. Words like “white supremacy” are tossed around willie-nillie by adorably young white ladies that deliver tragedy in compassionate tones with their melancholy faces.
And we are shocked when, as the news streams into our homes (which subtley chronicles hate crime and war to mold us into hating each other), some weak and fragile people commit further massacres.
This is no new concept. The same argument has been discussed, debated, and dissected millions of times (although nothing changes and we all still consume the news because we are starved for it). Politicians will have something to grasp onto as another “hot button” (everything sounds oddly sensational in that arena) issue to talk about legislating and blabbering over. Blah blah blah.
The drama that is playing out on television after the massacres in Colorado and Wisconsin will inevitably start a conversation with powerful verbage and ire-inspiring nouns. We will listen, without challenging (because how would we?) the concepts and assumptions made by people who assume assuming will bring ratings and further assumptions. If we don’t question or disagree with those assumptions, what will that make us?
Isolated (in our ‘safe’ worlds that just might be broken into by someone different than us), alone, and angry.
I just might be exactly that. So I’m turning off the television. Maybe you should too.
The Small Wonder didn’t seem to provide enough stimulus for now comedian, radio personality, and novelist Christine Meehan. Her account of fleeing America to haphazardly stumble through Europe and Africa, The Sign on My Forehead, is currently seeking publication. Upon return to the States, Christine initially dove into domestic politics, but her insatiable appetite for large scale affect has brought her to the Big Apple; she has chosen to publicly humiliate herself on stage when she isn’t frantically patching the holes in her boots. Follow her on Twitter.
**Christine can be found bringing joy to the world by talking silly in front of audiences in New York City. Find her at Stand Up New York August 22nd. Reservations under her name can be made by calling 212-595-0850.**