Through the MySpace bulletin, I read one of those common hoaxes purported to be an actual event. In this case it involved a woman who almost fell afoul to an abduction in a parking-lot, a Target parking-lot in Wheaton, Illinois, to be specific. Whenever I see these sorts of viral messages in my email or through the MySpace bulletin, I usually do a simple Google search, and ALWAYS have discovered these stories to be bogus. In this case all I did was cut and paste “Target” and “Wheaton” into a search engine, and surfed over to a site that explained that no police officials in that particular city had any knowledge of such an event. I've heard people say that it matters little whether such stories are real or not, because they have some kernel of truth within in them — or at the least, they offer themselves as cautionary tales, to keep us constantly vigilant.
The problem I have, is that we then allow ourselves to be suspicious and paranoid. Indeed, we let ourselves be terrorized. Certainly there are murderers and rapists and otherwise bad folk out there, but there always have been and perhaps always will be. Furthermore, it seems that because of our apparent neurotic desire to be frightened, we (and the media) latch onto the most gristly events (or fictions) that come our way. There are many splashy headlines of violence in the news on any given day; however, once the reader moves past the first three or four paragraphs, the morbid Hannibal Lecterness dissipate into much more mundane scenarios. From the “duck and cover” drills of childhood memories of those older than I, to the kids on milk boxes of my childhood, to those equally tenuous, ghostly WMD threats aimed at todays youngsters, it's all empty.
When images on the TV and text warnings on the internet take the place of our experiential and anecdotal evidence of violence, we've lost our cognitive bridge to the real world.
Are we so far away from the day when parents will loose custody of their children because of a charge of abuse when all they do is allow their kids to go outside and play? Because, you know, there's a pedophile or a cannibal behind every bush.
There are currently 435 individuals caged in the Guantánamo Bay detainment camp. These men were labeled by the Bush administration as the “worst of the worst” of terrorists. Hmm? Yet over 300 have already been released, without any charges or explanations. Another hundred plus are (supposedly) ready for release. They served as a public relations buffer, a pathetic canard that helped in the narrative that Iraq was a hotbed of international terrorism.
Whether those involved in this current global black farce are cognizant of the fact from the fiction, the result is the same: a terrible madness has been released on the world.
I've become impatient with those in the media and government who play the role of cheerleaders of doom.
I try to appreciate novelist William T. Vollmann. But I had to reevaluate him when he published his 2004 7 volume nonfiction treatise of violence, Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means. It's full of his personal experience in impoverished crime-ridden neighborhoods and war-torn countries from his years of travel. It's a bleak, bitter pill to swallow. But what do you expect from this mountain of desperation and hopelessness? Fold it together with 7 volumes of first-person accounts of successful work in the global peace and justice movements, and there would be something resembling the world as it is today.
This is why I shy away from current war films, even if they are expressly created to be anti-war statements. When you give thought to millions of dollars spent to provide a realistic depiction of combat, clearly the vast numbers of ticket-holders will be giddy with the adrenaline rush of gun play and explosions. The nuances of contextual ambiguity can't compete with the trill ride.
Yesterday I saw Children of Men. It's filled with enough full auto ballistics and naturalistic explosions to veer dangerously close to that territory of the unintentional recruitment film, but it has the additional element of being science fiction. In this case, a futuristic depiction of a bleak world into which we are heading.
This is a potent, gut-wrenching film. Alfonso Cuarón is one of my favorite young directors. When my sister forced me to join the modern consumer world by giving me a DVD, Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También was my first DVD purchase.
Children of Men played in this country at the 11th hour of 2006, making it available for the Academy Awards. To think of it as anything but the best film of the year, is to have not seen the film. Don't be put off by the fact that it's adapted from a PD James novel. Loosely adapted, that's the key. This is a far fucking cry from those Dalgliesh adaptations of drawing room murders where pinkies are always dangling over the tea trays.
There are many sites on the internet pushing for a grassroots word-of-mouth campaign to get out to the theaters. Let me, in my tiny way, add to this. Go see Children of Men!