Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"The Way It Is" or "The Prejean Maneuver"

A pudgy, pink-haired man in an overcoat and dark glasses precariously balances his weight on a cinder block at an abandoned construction site. Had there been any observers to his lonely vigil, they might say it looked like he was waiting for someone.

Suddenly, a statuesque beauty, her long blond locks covered by a red-and-white gingham scarf, walks up to the pudgy pink-haired man. She is carrying a picnic basket, also lined in red-and-white gingham. Sunglasses cover her eyes as well.

The man gets up from his cinder block and waves in recognition. The two remove their sunglasses.



"It's so good to see you, girl!"

They embrace, then say in unison:


Perez then says to the woman:

"Sorry it got a little ugly towards the end there."

"No worries, P. I know you had to make it believable."

"It's just that every time I called you a cunt, I got another sponsor."

"And every time I said Christ would forgive you, Fox News came back to me with a better deal."

"I sure hope you get that Fox gig, Carrie. Having a regular soapbox will give us a chance to publicly fight more often."

"Thanks, Perez! By the way, I'm sorry I haven't returned your emails recently -- it's just that I've been so busy counting all my money."

Across town, Rush Limbaugh and Wanda Sykes share a lamb gyro at a meat cart:

"Rush, I'm sorry I said I wished your kidneys would fail. It's just that every time I say something like that, people just shove money down my pockets!"

"Don't sweat it, Wanda! This only gives me more ammunition so I can rally up the Base and kick out that wishy-washy ol' Michael Steele. Oh, and get more money."

Some miles away, a struggling blue-collar father comments on a Free Republic thread about Perez Hilton. He has been recently laid off from his job, and feels full of anger and impotence at the way his life seems out-of-control. The media storm regarding the Miss California controversy has revved him up and stoked his rage. Whereas before his homophobia was relatively minor and unexpressed -- and indeed he has previously never even heard of Perez Hilton -- now he is focused on hating gays with full force. In fact, so focused is he on the Hilton/Prejean feud, he has forgotten all about the real issues that are effecting his family's life -- job security, taxes, health insurance, decent and affordable education for his children. No, coining the phrase "Perez Fagton" has now taken up his valuable attention. And it feels good, to have an outlet for this rage, and to forget The Way It Is.

Not too far from the "Freeper" is a twentysomething out-of-work editor posting on "The Kos" about how Carrie Prejean is a bigoted slut who should be punched in the mouth to shut up. This young man may feel he has very little in common with the "Freeper," but in fact they face similar issues regarding finances and health care. The "Kos-head" and the "Freeper" both have causes that mean something to them -- gay marriage rights and Christianity -- but the fact of the matter is, marriage (gay or straight) is a luxury without the basics like food, health, and shelter. And one key food or water shortage or natural/man-made disaster will eclipse all other issues pretty damn quickly.

No, there is something purposely stirring up passions in the media in order to distract the public and break them up into warring factions filled with hate. If we need a physical representation of this something, especially in regards to the current situation, we could do no better than:

Donald Trump is the poster child for the real winner in all these debates and fusses. He gets to have it both ways, is a pal of both Hilton & Prejean, and enjoys the fruits of the controversy. What side is Trump on, anyway? Is he for or against gay marriage? The fact is, he is far, far outside the sphere where these topics are relevant. He is too busy making money. Him, Rupert Murdoch, all of them. How can Fox be connected to the ultra-liberal "Simpsons" and the ultra-conservative Fox News? Mega Media goes wherever the wind blows. And many -- though certainly not all -- of the most opinionated pundits on both sides of the fence also go where the wind blows.

And when the dust clears, there is you, and you, and you, and you and me. Different opinions perhaps, but facing similar issues of life-and-death, death-and-taxes, and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is The Way It Is.

But you know, in a sense it's best that we have the Hiltons and Prejeans and Limbaughs and Sykeses of the world, because they are pressure-release valves for the masses. But I much rather prefer true entertainment being the pressure-valve of the masses -- TV, movies, video games, comic books. Because when you use real-life sensitive issues with real-life people to inflame public opinion in order to drive up website hits and ratings, people could get hurt. Debates over topics like gay marriage should be conducted in rational, round-table discussion fashion, far more "PBS" than Perez or Limbaugh. But PBS -- who watches that boring stuff? The people want something more along the lines of Professional Wrestling. And by gum, they sure as hell are getting it!

And this is pretty much what John Lennon and Ozymandias were talking about, except the former just threw it out there as a concept and the latter came up with a workable plan. But Ozymandias formulated his particular plan because he felt that humans were ultimately stupid beasts that needed to be dragged by the nose from one spectacle to another, always needing something to focus on and hate. Is that true? Or can we reject the bread-and-circuses on our own and work towards a better world together, rather than wait for the squid-monster to do it for us?



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  1. Anonymous3:21 PM

    Interesting points. It's funny, because I got more info on this whole "thing" here than I've gotten anywhere else. I don't watch the "News". It's largely irrelevant to the communities I belong to, so I listen to my communities to see what's important to them, and focus on that.

    You're idea of a roundtable discussion ala PBS is sound, but I'll take it a step further: Why broadcast it at all? The real problem is that everyone is garnering their opinions from a few loud extroverts, while being reticent to pause and think through the issues in light of history and care for those they live among and with.

    Well, not everyone. That's what the "anti-media" tells us. That the media is the problem, and that people are stupid and gullible and prone to lemming off the cliff of ignorance.

    My friend Heath is clever. My wife really thinks things through, and examines all sides of the issues as best she can. The guys I work with are kinda naysayers, often reasonable and open to discuss differing opinions. Dustin is probably one of the smartest guys I know. I have only a couple friends who seem to parrot what they hear on TV or whatever, and even they don't swallow the whole hook, line and sinker.

    My point? We could all be more engaged in our personal communities, and less engaged in that which we have no need to be concerned with.

  2. Well, the only way it effects me is that over on my Blogger account, I wrote an entry on why Republicans should support gay marriage.

    AdSense grabbed that keyword, and for a week or two, some "Defense of Marriage" group placed a big column ad on the right margin with Ms. Prejean as their poster child. My earnings so far? $0.01

    I'd comment further on the whole mess, but I need to go check out the YouTube video of the Mets streaker everyone is talking about.

  3. Well put.

    I think one of the things that bugs me most about this manufactured controversy is that the characters in it are pretty much exactly the caricatured stereotypes to bring out the worst prejudices on both sides so that nobody will listen or actually pay attention. It's like a shell game.

  4. You said it best, Val... "bread and circuses". Because, you know, far be it from major media to actually cover the important things in people's lives in a concise, thorough and meaningful way...

  5. Oh, no doubt. Most of these guys and gals (especially Limbaugh) are totally gaming the American public and getting rich while they do it.