Friday, June 26, 2009

Minority report

blogger not impressed

The wisdom of the ancients tells us that celebrity deaths come by three, and sure enough! we have been deprived this week of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I have given this confluence of loss my attention, and I conclude that Robert Ballard, who explored the wreck of the Titanic, does not have a vessel capable of plumbing the depths of my indifference.

McMahon was never more than a minor irritant at the edge of the screen; his principal achievement was inspiring the character of Hank Kingsley in The Larry Sanders Show. Jackson was a modestly talented dancer who impressed a lot of people who never saw the Nicholas Brothers. As for Ms. Fawcett, allow me to paraphrase a waspish nineteenth century literary critic: The work of Farrah Fawcett will be admired when the films of Ingrid Bergman have been forgotten -- but not until then.

The media, ah, the media, they are well and truly launched on one of those orgiastic grief-fests that mark the passing of the famous, the glamorous, and the reasonably young. Every ten years or so, people with otherwise empty lives gather in public places to light candles and tell sad stories of the death of Diana, Lennon, Elvis, and so on back to Valentino. Don't bother trying to find out about the so-called real world until Jackson is interred and the coroner's final report is released. No time for the flu pandemic, the pirates of Somalia, the North Korean missile supposedly menacing Waikiki, the Iranian election, the economy, the Mexican drug wars, the suspension of Manny Ramirez, or any of the other issues that so engaged us just a few days ago. Don't even expect to see the pope unless he has a comment about "Billie Jean" to share.

I never thought I would understand, and even slightly sympathize with, the world-view of traditional Islam, but I get it. I do. They don't hate us because of our "freedom," or because we're Christians, or whatever your neighborhood demagogue has been telling you. They hate what we represent. They see us as shallow, trivial and obsessed with the meretricious. They don't care what we do at home, but they will die to keep us from exporting this gunge to their societies. They may be relatively secular, they may not want to fling burqas over their daughters, but neither do they want them flashing their crotches like Britney Spears. If they see Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" as a contest between Britney and the Taliban, they may reluctantly go with the Taliban.

I wouldn't. I don't want to live in a traditional society, whatever the tradition. I'll take the crap that comes with the freedom, because the alternative is far worse. If American society really is getting dumber, trashier and more discouraging, I want to be in a position to say so. Just don't ask me what I think of Jacko.



Blogger Quacko said...

Spent whole weekend with no death media on. Have a Michael Jackson story-but as always has nothing to do with Michael Jackson per se, but about a kid I was semi-raising at 17... news and pictures at 11..

6:51 PM  

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