And just wait until September!

April 24, 2008 by barbara

barbara writes

We have become a violence-saturated people. Passive violence, mostly. Voyeuristic violence. We love pitting people against each other and watching them duke it out. We say we enjoy competition and feign distaste for conflict. But I would submit that it takes escalation of conflict to hold our collective micro-second interest. We've been conditioned to this by video games, print media, broadcast media, a plethora of "R" rated movies. We eat this up, a few pockets of peacemakers notwithstanding.

Don't believe me? Think "American Idol" and the ultra-snarly Simon-Whatshisface. "Survivor." The Donald Trump humiliation show. Talk radio, both sides of the aisle. The Coen Brothers' films. Pro football. A hockey game is a big disappointment if blood doesn't spatter-paint the ice. A NASCAR race is never more thrilling than when someone wipes out in flames. Dick Cheney’s face-blast would have had longer shelf-life if his hunting buddy had died. There's more.

Violence perpetrated on the Constitution, the courts, civil liberties is too esoteric. We don’t have much time or interest in that conceptual stuff. No. Overt conflict and violence is what grabs our attention, what sells papers, magazines, books, tickets to movies and sporting events, TV ads. We are a nation addicted to the equivalent of human cock-fighting. So it shouldn’t surprise us very much that America is increasingly interested in the interminable 2007-2008 election cycle now that it’s gone über-nasty.

This election cycle is one for the books. It’ll be remembered as the one Americans viewed through splayed fingers or through closed eyes whilst clutching the arm of their sweeties, saying, “I can’t watch!” as they continue to do so.

What’s more American than a loathesome villain stalking an innocent victim? Oh, hold on! Don’t get your grundies in a bundle, Hillary-fans. By and large, I suppose she’s not loathesome nor is Obama innocent. But that’s the drama unfolding right before our eyes and we love this. The closer we come to up-chucking without actually doing so, the better. A puking populace doesn't make for a compelling photo op.

Clinton gets this. Her people get it. They are playing into our most base instincts. And kiddos, we’ve all got ‘em, whether or not we care to admit it.

Consider the words most commonly used in this campaign. Battle and attack. Oooh, someone lobbed a metaphorical IED at their opponent. Booyah!

Yup, we’ve got war right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. The Dems – candidates, surrogates and their respective supporters – are warring across the whole damn country and it’s one bloody mess. America loves this.

Must be time to release the lions.

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Comments

susan | April 24, 2008 - 12:50pm

A recent rape trial here in Hennepin County involved a U of MN football player, a star athlete as well as a star student. Dominic Jones was called to his buddies apartment where a "party" was underway. The party seems to have consisted of several guys and two women, tossing back shots. One of the women, weighing barely 100 lbs., tossed back 8 shots of vodka in a very short period of time. She then had sex with three of the guys, a fact that was not allowed in the trial due to victim shield laws. (Which I support.) By the time Dominic Jones arrived on the scene she had passed out. He then took a turn at her, but, according to his testimony, did not penetrate her, instead masturbated over her blank face, all the while mugging for his friend's cell phone video camera. The cell phone evidence is what both caught him, and cleared him of the 1st degree charges. (No penetration.) However, by law, a comatose person cannot give consent to sexual activity, so he was convicted of a lesser charge.
Those who watched the trial were appalled at the details, and believe that Dominic Jones assumed that as a highly sought after athlete, he is entitled to having his way with women. And statistically, it's true that athletes charged with sexual assault are found guilty at a much lower rate than the general population.
But what struck me is how many men -- and some women -- found this almost normal male bonding behavior. And what was chilling was how Dominic Jones played to the camera like any college kid out on a lark, with no clue that he was doing anything vulgar, if not illegal.

This is a long way of getting to Barb's point about violence. We've become a totally desensitized culture, to violence, to sexual behavior. Young people see this sort of thing on Girls Gone Wild --okay, not exactly, but the concept of "partying" including getting dead drunk, flashing body parts for the camera, which pretty much leads to screwing whatever moves, or doesn't -- and on FaceBook, YouTube and so-called mainstream TV. While trying to find the ABC "debate" the other night I came across a show called Beach Party, I think, which had co-eds sitting in hot tubs and bubble path pools in their bikinis and frat boys competing in some competition loaded with sexual innuendo. I hurried past it to the ABC so-called debate, which, as it turns out, wasn't much better.
We're steeping our kids in a lot of sleazy stuff. Maybe that's what's in those hot tubs -- and videos and movies -- a sort of moral anesthesia.
Yeah, bring on the lions.

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Anon 1 (not verified) | April 25, 2008 - 5:52am

Why are you surprised at that ?

Can you spell L -I -B- E -R- A -L ?

Excuse me, I forgot. You now call it "PROGRESSIVE".

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susan | April 25, 2008 - 3:29pm

First of all, did I say I was surprised? I'm not.
Second of all, not only can I spell liberal, I'm proud to be one if the opposite is what we today (mistakenly) call a "conservative". And I share your dislike of the "progressive" label. I cringe when I hear my peeps using that one.

And I have to hand it to your band of jackals, anon, they did a good job of making us liberals out to be responsible for the Hollywood sleaze and degrading sexual imagery that permeates the airwaves -- images that don't have much to do with intimacy or love or even arousal, if you be askin' me. But as we all know, it's often those most obsessed with policing the morals of others who are wrasslin' with their own sexual demons. Think Ted Haggard -- homophobic family man, or Elliot Spitzer, crime-ring buster.

In fact, most of the liberals I know are like me, in long-time marriages or relationships, raising or having raised children with little or no TV, and restrictions on what movies they see, what music they hear, as well as restrictions on their social life, phone time, and so on. It's a really difficult time to be raising children and I don't fault those on either side, the "conservative" right or the "liberal" left, for being afraid of what their children are seeing and hearing, and being angry at the media for the relentless images of crude sex and violence that they spew into our children's brains.

But I do fault people like you who try to blame this cultural sewer on people like me -- even though I admit, you've done a good job of it. The mud you guys through is so tarry and toxi it tends to stick around for awhile.
I'm a liberal, proud of it, but I'm no sleaze monger. I'm also not a progressive. And I'm willing to put my name to what I write.

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Peggy (not verified) | April 25, 2008 - 7:21pm

What really chaps my hide, is a critic who replies anonymously!
What is that all about!? What could you possibly be afraid of?

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susan | April 25, 2008 - 7:40pm

I agree Peggy, and our friend "Anon" does it all the time, whether adding Anon1 or 2 to his (or her) anonymity. And how do we know it's the same guy? (and I'm 99% sure it is a guy) Because his lame little jibes are always the same. And I'm susan lenfestey, and I approve this message. And this blog, and am not afraid of whatever comes my way. Except extremist Republicans and well, extremists of any stripe. And John McCain.

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Anon 1 (not verified) | April 28, 2008 - 9:13am

You might want to get in touch with any "super" delegates that you might know.

You now have a major problem.

It is fascinating to watch.

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