Twinkies and Circuses

WFUV Gala 2012: Bob Costas

WFUV Gala 2012: Bob Costas (Photo credit: wfuv)

We Americans love our distractions. Be it reality TV, our summer blockbusters, or sports, we need to be entertained constantly. To interrupt our enjoyment of that is begging to be censured or worse. Case in point: Bob Costas‘s message during last weeks football broadcast.
Javon Belcher’s murder of Kassandra Perkins and his suicide may or may not have had anything to do with football.  He may also have found another way to kill Ms. Perkins and himself without a handgun. I won’t go on a screed here belaboring the obvious that guns make it too easy to kill. Yes you can kill someone with a knife, arrow, or even your fists, but all you have to do to kill with a gun is squeeze. That’s not the point though, and besides, I have gone on record, and maintain my stance, that the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution is important. I have also gone on record that we need a more mature, nuanced dialogue about guns from both sides of the issue, rather than the knee jerk “all guns are bad”, or paranoid “they’re going to take away my guns.”
All of that is irrelevant though. What is important is our outrage at anyone daring to interfere with our ability to forget about it all. I don’t agree with Bob’s point about guns. I do, however, agree with his assertion, right at the beginning of his speech, that every time we are faced with something like this we claim to gain perspective, but every time it is clear we lost it since the last time.
If not now, when? We need to be shocked awake, otherwise we fall into a stupor. Another blogger, one I usually agree with, is angry at him because football is supposed to be escapism.
Well all of us, and I can be guilty of this too, escape too much. We hide behind our entertainments. We bury our heads in the sand so we do not have to witness the horror, or worse, accept our culpability in it. Little Zoey Perkins (Belcher) is an orphan now, because we have not seriously addressed the issues of gun control, of mental health awareness, of domestic violence, or of a culture of macho violence worship that encourages men to settle their emotions with their fists or a gun rather than process them. We all own a part of that.
Folks  get more outraged over losing Hostess brand snacks than we do at forty million fellow Americans living in poverty. They are more disgusted over the prices of tickets to see their favorite band than they are our government’s part in continuing the cycle of violence in the middle east. They are angrier over a venerable sports caster taking a few minutes of their time to pontificate than they are over the murder he is pontificating about.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself. I will still play my games. I will still watch my Doctor Who, and I will still go out and get plastered once in a while. I would never tell folks to stop watching football. I would, however, suggest they reflect on the intensity with which they watch it, and how easily they let it distract them from the problems of the world. We don’t have to be serious all the time, but we do sometimes.


4 thoughts on “Twinkies and Circuses

  1. You make an excellent point that we do tend to want to be entertained into oblivion. At the same time, while I do enjoy my entertainment like you, I try to be as civically active as I can be. Helping prevent abuse of animals, women and children is something which will always fire me up. I’m glad you are likewise an activist. There need to be more activists in the world and fewer apathetic souls; then we might start to see real change. Terrific post, and thanks for the share.

  2. Pingback: From Your Perch « Hand of Ananke

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