Monday, November 22, 2010

Ooze in The Age of Distraction—
Squib of the Day, November 22nd, 2010

The Blob (1958)
"But logic doesn’t apply to Palin. What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success."
—"Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha," by Frank Rich, New York Times.

When we were growing up in Burnt Duck, in the days before megaplexes, there was a movie theater on Lindbergh Street, the Osage Theater, that showed matinees on Saturday that were aimed at children of a certain age. Monster movies. Stories of alien invasions by mutant insect men or swamp creatures or, our favorite, the great amorphous globs of protoplasmic ooze, rising up out of the sewer looking to swallow
(though "envelope" might be a more appropriate word for the throatless ooze-type creature) any humans who might be unaware of their presence, although you'd think those humans would at least hear the obligatory gnash of diminished sevenths played by an orchestra of angry junkies desperately in need of a fix, and look up—for god-sake look up and see what's coming!

Never happened.

And once the creature had ingested a sufficient number of unwary victims (they were always maddeningly unwary) and the sheriff—or if the budget allowed the National Guard—was finally convinced of the danger, then the real terror began. Apparently these small town sheriffs or National Guard generals had never encountered this type of monster at the Osage Theater and so would immediately proceed to attack the creature with their puny earth weapons.

Oh, the futility!

If you grew up in or around Burnt Duck and spent your Saturdays at the Osage, we don't need to tell you what happened next. But for those of our readers who may have had deprived childhoods, the inevitable result of bullets, tanks and bombs directed at an ooze creature is that the creature gets stronger and bigger and hungrier for human flesh (preferably teenagers on some darkly secluded lover's lane). The fools! Anybody knows you can't kill monsters the normal Christian way you would kill a human.

It seems to us that Sarah Palin is something akin to that “amorphous ooze type monster.” Wounds that would easily destroy the political ambitions of a mere human sort, only make her stronger and whet her insatiable craving for media attention. But the fact that she and her daughter are each on reality shows and that we care about them at all seems to be more a symptom of the malaise that has settled upon the nation over the last decade or so, than on any discernible talent, intelligence, or—in a word the pundits seem to be fond of lately—gravitas manifested by anyone in that preternaturally mediocre Wasilla clan. And we are not sure why this is so. It seems we are inundated with people who are famous for being famous. There is little difference—none, really—in depth or perceptiveness between Sarah Palin and, say, Paris Hilton, for example. And in the past such people might have a career as panelists on a game show, or hawked beauty creams on UHF stations, but nobody was insane enough to consider that they might become President of the United States.

We have lived in a world of powerful distractions for over a century now: movies, radio, TV, internet, and now telephones where we can access our chosen distraction no matter what our surroundings. The line between reality and fantasy has apparently, for many Americans, disappeared, and what is without irony named “reality TV” is the opposite of any reality that exists outside of the scope of the camera.

That camera, which in the past would in have been the weapon that destroyed anyone's political ambitions if they forever spouted insipid banalities, stoked fears and racial tension, endorsed candidates (Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Joe Miller) that subsequently cost her party a majority in the Senate, and seems incapable of telling the truth about even the most mundane things in her life or "career," has made Sarah Palin a political star. And now the amorphous glob of protoplasm exists only to consume us.

America seems to forever teeter back and forth on the liberal/conservative fulcrum. The Goombah makes no secret of which side of that fulcrum it puts its admittedly insubstantial weight. But this is not about liberal or conservative. This is about stupidity. Not just Sarah Palin's stupidity (which seems to be the only thing growing faster than her fame) but the stupidity of the American people—or at least a frighteningly large proportion of them. This is about how democracy works—or fails to work—in the age of distraction. The fact that we are mentioning her name and the Presidency in the same breath should frighten us much more than any old B movie at some long-forgotten theater in Burnt Duck. And that dissonant diminished seventh chord has been sounding stridently for over two years now. It's time to look up—for god-sake look up and see what's coming!


Ken said...

Bravo, bravo, bravo. Such a shame that almost no one is listening.
BTW, we mentioned your blog as "The Best Blog of All Time" on one of our blogs.
Keep up the great writing.


Best in Hokumburg maybe, though Sally Johnson's blog, The Flora and Fauna of the Upper Gumm Valley During the Late Pleistocene, is a pretty good read too—if you like ice and large extinct mammals.

But we are convinced we have the best readers of all time though.

Thanks, Ken. You made my day. We are very fortunate.

homeshire said...

I arrived here just a while back looking for a view of the oldest known photograph of a man. I'll not be leaving any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we simply ignore Palin? What's the fuss? Is she the Blob, an evil creature to be feared by the left? Don't make her more or less than what she is. Palin is on a helluva ride, but like all rides, this one will end soon enough. She's only going to the bank, making a ton of money. This is only a side show. Is your real fear the stupidity of the American people? Now, there's a real monster to be feared.


I sure hope you're right. But I'd have bet money that ride would have ended in November 2008. Instead she seems to have become the chosen vehicle of all that is ignorant and intolerant about the American people. And as long as she is Rupert Murdoch's darling, she has the third largest media conglomerate in the world promoting her.

Like I say, I hope your right, and the odds may be in your favor. But I'm not willing to take a chance on something potentially so catastrophic for the country.

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