Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Variations on a Theme

Today, on Facebook, my adorable nephew, JR, posted the following:

"Soooo... I don't watch the news or read the paper.. but i see all these [Facebook] posts with israel and egypt.. whats the 411 with them??"

While I was tempted to introduce my face to my palm, I remembered he's 18. And, at 18, his priority is still figuring out the fine line between just enough and too much vodka. At least he was tuned in enough to ask the question and care about the answer.

However, a couple of the comments threw me for a loop and I actually did introduce my face to both palms...

like war or something.. i think.. ha."

This ones about I think the government is trying to enforce a curfew for everyone. That starts at like seven or something like that. At least that's what I heard"

Times. They've clearly changed.

I don't remember a time when I wasn't aware, to some extent, of foreign affairs. During the '70s, I suppose, it was hard to escape on a personal level.

Many of my classmates had parents and grandparents returning, defeated, from Viet Nam - all of them irrevocably altered. My best friend in elementary school, her step-father returned from the war addicted to drugs - marijuana and, I suspect, heroin - and with PTSD so severe, I watched helplessly as he, during an episode in which he thought he was in combat, put his youngest son's head through a wall. I hated him. I was afraid of him. Now I understand he was made sick by his own government. Now I pity him and I honor him as a veteran, if nothing else. But, even as young as I was, I knew where and what Viet Nam was and knew it was huge.

Not long after that night, 3 Vietnamese refugee children enrolled in my school, 2 in my class. Subsequently, I knew what Bidong Island was and how they'd come to find themselves in the Middle of Nowhere, Wyoming. I occasionally still wonder what happened to them and what they thought of the frozen, arid tundra in which they'd found themselves residing.

But that learning was from personal experience...the best way to learn.

However, when I was 7, the people of Iran overthrew their government and became an Islamic Republic appointing the Ayatollah Khomeini as supreme leader - answerable only to God. I remember this because this face:

Photo from Wikimedia
was plastered on every broadcast channel - all 4 of them (including PBS) - and in every newspaper. He terrified me. He still terrifies me. I suspect his image still terrifies many secular Iranians who lived under his regime.

While I may not have understood the fine points, I understood that this regime change and the new anti-American rhetoric flowing out of Iran were things to be afraid of.

I understood why it was such a big deal then when, in 1986, the Iran-Contra affair,
whereby then President Reagan was accused of selling arms secretly to the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war, became public. This was no secret blow-job-and-then-lying-about-it affair. This was full blown violation of embargos and treaty agreements. This was truly an impeachable offense. Is there anyone who would not recognize this man:

Photo from Wikimedia
and associate him as the fall guy in that scandal?

I was 14. I even knew what vodka was then. So perhaps the "vodka defense" is no excuse.

I contemplated this for quite some time this afternoon. Then, as if the general topic is in the psychic air, the Divatologist in her infinite wisdom, published an extraordinarily well-written piece about the fall of television - the fall of media really.

Meanwhile, the average American has no knowledge of world events that actually matter. Headline News broadcasts opinions from its viewers, via phone call, e-mail, and Facebook post. CNN, one of the granddaddies of Ted Turner’s cable network empire, now asks viewers which news story they want to see next. (I wish that were a joke, or at the very least a story in The Onion, but it’s not.)"

And then, even more evidence of this topic appeared, again, on the Facebook by one Lux Obscura who, in regards to Egypt, stated this:
"omg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egypt hey don't look over here at iran omg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egyptomg egypt"

with a link to this article about an "execution binge" in Iran (what have I told you about taking your eyes off Iran, Son?)

And then posted this comment:

It's the stupid 24/7 OCD hypermedia news cycle. Iran is smart. They know that Egyupt is dominating everone's attention, so they're just gonna go off and sweep some stuff under the rug while no one is looking.

If it hadn't been for NPR, I wo
uld have forgotten once again to check the corners of the playing field to see who was running the sneak play.

Which reminds me, has anyone seen TSA lately? I can just feel them doing something retarded."

Are we desensitized? Are we overloaded by ranting talking heads? Or do we just really not care - oblivious in some kind of false sense of consumerist security bubble - unless the topic at hand has entertainment value?

I don't know.

But I don't like it. Not one little bit.

Still...at least he asked the question.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't watch any of the cable stations. Local news at 10, and the rest online. Al Jazeera has been doing a bang up job of covering Egypt, as has BBC.