Wednesday, 24 April 2013

When the Morning Cries

I watch a lot of news. It's a symptom of getting older, I reckon. It's because the happenings of the world at large become more relevant as you age. Timmy who just drew a finger-painting doesn't care what's happening with the economy, but when you're about to dive into the world at large, you need to know the temperature of the water. News programs give us that information.
But that's not all that news programs give us. They also tell us about current events which include public gatherings, politics & the latest issues.
Then, of course, there are reports on Crime, War & Injustice; Death, Pain, Injury; Blood, Corpses & Horror - and it's never just one story. The same day you hear about a car crash killing two people and hospitalizing four more, you'll also hear about teenagers kicking a defenseless animal to death, attempted robberies at small businesses and protesters turning violent for no real reason.
Then, the next night, they'll give you a follow-up story on the events, all the while giving you another dose of the misery of the world . . . and you know what? I don't really care anymore.
The Word of the Day is: 'TRAGEDY'.

Tragedy /'trajədee/ n. 1. A sad or serious play with an unhappy ending.: Shakespeare's tragedy of 'Hamlet'. 2. That branch of drama concerned with this kind of play. 3. Any literary work such as a novel, dealing with a sad and serious theme. 4. The tragic element of drama, of literature generally, or of life. 5. Any very sad, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; disaster or calamity.

A lot of people died in the Fertilizer plant explosion in Waco, Texas - but I don't care; a lot of people were horrified, injured, killed or traumatized by the Boston Bombings (as they have been dubbed) - but I don't care & just recently, a girl was murdered and her boyfriend fell from a hotel window as the police moved in to arrest him, it's believed he committed suicide
But I Don't Care!

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a heartless man. I get it, it's sad. I am not attempting to demean or diminish the truth of these people's pain, or the suffering of their loved ones. I'm not a very empathetic man, clearly, but I do care about certain stories. Everyone has their hot buttons, mine being rape and animals. The dried up currant that is my heart swells for a single heartbeat when I hear about people hurting animals or women. But I don't weep, I don't grimace or frown, I don't even blink.
I just think To hell with that guy and I get on with my life.

The thing is, I can't do it. I can't really feel for these people, or accept their pain for myself. I can't even do it a little bit. Because it's such a constant barrage these days, an endless stream of tragedy, that it's ridiculous. There's just so much of this crap that, from my perspective, it's actually kinda funny.

Okay . . . you're not laughing, but hear me out. My thing is, there is actually more tragedy in the world than the news covers. Yeah, sure, they cover a lot of the big stuff, usually. But the truth is, they are less likely to cover a story if they have no footage of it. So there's a lot of stuff that doesn't get onto the news, despite being just as tragic, if not more so. So for one thing, I can't justify caring about something, just because I've heard about it.

But that also gives us this situation where I get a mental image of two news program executives picking and choosing through the tragic news stories  of the day:
  "Hey Barry, deaths and war in Uganda?"
  "Nah . . . no footage."
  "Well, we've got some footage of a building exploding in Afghanistan."
  "It's too foreign, Joe. What else we got?"
  "There was a woman raped on Brunswick street."
  "Was she hot?"
  "Uh . . . yeah, kinda."
  "Great. Get a photo of her, and get some footage of her mum crying."
  "Right, okay. Oh Barry! There was an explosion downtown!"
  "Was it terrorists?"
  "No, but we have footage."
  "Hmm . . . you know what, let's just say that people "suspect" it might be terrorists, and we've got ourselves a headliner."

You know what I mean? I find that kind of thing funny. But it's not just in my head, you can see it happening too! Watch the news, and you'll start to see what tragic news stories they chose to air some stories over others, and why. You'll even see them trying to promote tragedies, so that they can guarantee an audience. Just recently, they've been calling the Boston Bombings an attack with a "weapon of mass destruction" used by "terrorists".
As a Word Nerd, I laughed at that. Terrorists? Okay, maybe, but that's a technicality.If I run up to you and scream "GIVE ME YOUR MONEY OR I'LL PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE!" I am terrorizing you, and I am being a terrorist. But a Weapon of Mass Destruction?
Was the bombing pleasant? No. Did it kill a lot of people? Well, it killed a few, but That's not what Weapon of MASS Destruction means. There is only one weapon of mass destruction really, and that's a nuclear bomb. That pithy squib in Boston barely even dented the sidewalk, But you can see the news program executives at work. They just want people to feel more frightened, so they'll keep watching the news to make sure the 'terrifying problem' is being resolved, or perhaps to reinforce their distrust of foreigners.

Then there's the incident at Waco, Texas. A Fertilizer explosion, where not only innocent people, but also firemen and -women died in the blaze . . .
You want to know what was the first thing I was thinking when I heard about the Waco, Texas explosion?

Burn, baby, burn; Waco Inferno!
Burn, baby, burn; Set my Kids on Fire!

I do enjoy the Doug Anthony All Stars. And to think, two horrible, fire-related tragedies in one place? Don't ever light a cigarette in Texas . . .
I mean sure, it's horrible, but from the news, I have come to learn that America is, all over, a pretty horrible place. Never mind the homophobia, racism & religious zealotry. Instead, I'm more worried that half the country's population owns a gun, and that is barely even an exaggeration. Then you start getting into the rates of violence, drug use, unemployment, hate crime, gang crime, gun crime, terrorist attacks, murder, suicide - and the buses probably don't arrive on time either!

But, is that all true? Maybe, probably not. I know that it's exaggerated, but that is the America I see when I turn on the News, because that's all I ever hear about America, unless a celebrity sneezed or did something else that doesn't matter. It's come to the point when, if I hear about someone who died because of a gun-toting spree-killer in America, I think:
  "Well, what did you expect? You live in America."
Then, when people try to enact tougher gun laws, which more than half the population agree with - including the freakin' President! - still America clings to its guns. It's like watching a baby, suckling on the end of a shotgun, and when the mother tries to take it away, it cries, so she gives it back.

It's Black Comedy. It's Gallows Humour. I mean . . . the world is fucked, man. Get used to it. Tragedy is a part of this world. That's the thing, all of this News, it is a small part of a much larger picture, and that's why it's funny. Like a horrific caricature, the tragedy, terror and violence is exaggerated, while the 'normal' bits are ignored. We only ever see the extreme parts of the world, and they look absolutely ridiculous. They do to me, at least.

In the end it all boils down to two very simple things. For one, it's on the television. I watch the television to be either informed or entertained. For the most part, telling me about a terrible crime isn't going to teach me anything useful, so I choose to be entertained by it, and laugh as the world somehow continues to spin, despite being run by animals in business suits.

The second simple thing? Contrary to popular belief, personal history and photographic evidence - I am just a human being. I can't grieve for everyone,  I am not equipped for that, and neither are you. Because if you tried, you would go insane. You can't feel the world's pain. The world is a big place, and there is so much pain in it, you would die from that kind of trauma. Even taking a single moment out of your life to grieve someone you don't even know, doesn't do any good for anyone.

I said before I'm not a very empathetic man. I don't really believe that anyone is (although, that's a point for a later discussion), but either way I don't watch the news to be traumatized. I was the first time. I watched the late night news and heard about a story of two kids stomping a cat to death.
What the hell, world?!
I was horrified, and scared that these kinds of sociopaths existed in the world. But then I watched it the next night, and heard about more people doing more bad things. Then worse things! And that's when I realized. This wasn't some lone maniac. This wasn't some strange occurrence.
This is just The News. This is normal. The fact that I can turn on the news, and hear about a woman being raped and killed by a stranger in an alleyway and honestly say, "Must be a slow news day . . ."

That's the real tragedy. But that's the world we live in.

It's all a Joke.

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