Sunday, November 03, 2013

there is an interesting theory that the increase in violent outbursts, LAX here, NC A&M there, which is accompanied by an increasingly aggressive and omnipotent media glorifying violence, and a football culture allowing focus on extended violence, three or four hours at a time, is related to americans' acceptance of wars in iraq, afghanistan, pakistan, etc. or at least our general inability to think critically about such things as drones, war in syria, etc. i'm not suggesting that the government is paying rupert murdoch or the nfl to keep us deadened to the kind of critical thinking that would bring these wars to a stop, only that the violent culture developed in tandem with continuous war, a war on terror that, since 9/11, has had vague or unstated goals, and involves us bombing people in places we only have a vague concept of.

i think actually that the majority of americans favored the war in iraq, if only because they felt we needed to get revenge somehow for the brutal destruction of our towers and people, and at the time they weren't so concerned with whether saddam hussein was the true enemy, or whether he was just evil enough that he would do in a pinch. six trillion dollars and thousands of lives later, we are mired in afghanistan and are sending drones to places like pakistan and yemen, hoping to single out and blow up bad guys who could be plotting against us. the tension is high back here on the homefront. sometimes it's boys from our community who are dying; we see the breakdown of our culture; we sense the enormous monetary consequences of the six-trillion sinkhole, and what can we do about it? if you're like me, you oppose it and vote for people who might stop it, but hey, thinking obama could stop it was some kind of illusion. he couldn't stop it. maybe he couldn't stop it for economic reasons, or political reasons. for whatever reason, he couldn't stop it. he's still dropping drones. our boys are still dying over there. you hear that? STILL DYING

living in this country day after day, you forget what's really important. miley cyrus is out there, there's all this football, and then these young guys just pop and go shoot up a TSA booth or a school or something, they snap under the pressure. maybe young people have always snapped. what's new really is this all-pervasive media culture that hones in on the guy's poor family, the neighbors who maintain he was always kind of a loner, etc. what's really happening? the world is watching television, especially america is watching its own black sheep of the family, those who got left out, pushed out, bullied as kids, or whatever, and just couldn't take it anymore. america watches in horror on television while the whole thing plays out over days.

meanwhile a young girl slips in to washington to ask our leaders why they blew up her grandmother, and she's more or less completely ignored, not only by obama, and the congress, but also by the people. now you can say that western media wanted to put malala up there, but didn't want to put nabila up there (that's the essence of this story - that, because they are so different, nabila is entirely snubbed) - but, another take on it says that the media are just pawns, they just serve up to the people, what the people demand, and what they need. if they can't handle thinking about the drones, serve up some football, or some freedom, or the right to be educated, as malala represents. by all means, don't make them think about the fact that we're killing people.

and the fact is, the drone stuff has been in plain sight all along. it's not like they're hiding it from us. we knew they were doing it. we knew they bombed these people all over the place, and sometimes they missed. we even had some people point out, publicly, that it was a mistake. didn't matter. we're still doing it. we're still doing it, and the people, by and large, are silent.

big football game in lubbock tonight. people converged on the football stadium starting at about ten or eleven in the morning, or they converged on the parking lots around it anyway, and this was to 'tailgate' for a six o'clock game with oklahoma state; there's always bad blood between oklahoma and texas teams, so everyone was looking for a rough game for which they reserve adjectives like "bruising," "punishing," "pounding" etc. people got hurt. the crowd got drunk, no doubt, by and large, anyway. my house is close enough that some people park here on their way over, and i see a steady line of people walking or driving into the campus all day. the tailgaters take up the entire campus, every parking lot, bring tons of beer and things to eat, make a day of it; by now, at about ten, though, the game is over and it's down to the serious partying. i'm not sure what's worse, when we win, or when we lose; i suppose i'll find out, because we just lost again. the town lives for the football team; we were all pulling for them. we'd been undefeated, up to a point, but these oklahoma teams, they kind of had it in for us, they were a bit too tough. those who went to the game to see a fight, they saw a fight, i'm sure. i'm not really sure it helped, though.

what gets me, i must say, is the relationship. it's like, we know that meth kills. we know that people are attracted to it because it makes them feel powerful. we know somewhat the same about guns, and young people that are powerless, pushed out of a society that hasn't found a job for them. same is true for football, even, to some degree; if you're in the top thousand of today's college senior class, you might have a chance in the pros, if you haven't gotten injured, if there's anything left in your brain. if not you join the army, get a job in the security industry, or sell cars, or do what you can. six trillion has been out there, making somebody's world better, but it hasn't been doing much for ours; we've lost a lot of jobs, and with crushing debt, aren't in much of a position to do anything about it. we sit here in football country, and you can hear the low growl of the trucks; their drivers aren't happy. things aren't working out the way they'd thought. the prosperity we took for granted isn't panning out for our children. there's an edge to the world, and more and more, you wonder who's going to snap next.

a related theory would be that if your team never ever ever wins, things get even worse; you could call it the cleveland syndrome. you read it first here. by that measure texas should be ok, because it has teams that win occasionally, and money to make sure it keeps happening. so much can be said to be lost in cleveland; weather's bad, has no economy, no hope, no nothing. but in michigan they at least have the wolverines, the tigers, the pistons, they have hope...not sure it makes that much difference, though. on a 'hope in sports' index cleveland would be at a one, maybe, slightly relieved that the indians at least made the wild card. that probably saved a half dozen lives, right there.

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