SATURDAY, MAY 1, 2021
But also, News of the world: Last evening, Our Town's leading cable news shows were exploring the same old desires.
First, cable stars explored the possibility that we could get Giuliani locked up. After that, they shifted gears:
They explored the possibility that we could get Gaetz locked up.
We thought about the many nights when cable stars assured Our Town that Mueller was going to get Donald J. Trump locked up, Surely, he already had the tax records, our tribe's leading hacks kept insisting.
That was pleasurable tribal entertainment, as were last night's pseudo-discussions. Meanwhile, the desire to get The Others locked up dates back past the dawn of time.
As we look back through our notes of the past week, we come upon an array of topics and manifestations we haven't yet discussed. For today, let's consider a chunk of a recent column by Nicholas Kristof.
Kristof had spoken with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization. What was on that gentleman's mind?
Dr. Tedros was very upset when they spoke, Kristof said. Part of Kristof's column went exactly like this:
KRISTOF (4/25/21): Dr. Tedros is from Tigray, a part of Ethiopia that since November has endured crimes against humanity by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has properly described atrocities in western Tigray as ethnic cleansing, but the world has largely been indifferent.
Tigrayan children are starving to death, men have been clubbed to death, and women and girls have been subjected to mass rape. Ethiopian opposition parties claim that more than 50,000 people have been killed—that is not verifiable, and the toll is unknown—and the scale of torture, starvation, murder and destruction in the past few months may have been the worst in the world.
“Hunger is weaponized, rape is weaponized, there is indiscriminate killing,” Dr. Tedros said. “The whole region is hungry.”
I respect a man who loses it when contemplating war crimes. I wish more would. And I hope President Biden and other world leaders will hear that agony, on behalf of so many in Tigray who are being starved, raped and murdered, and will use their influence to end this catastrophe.
We won't be asked to think about this on Our Town's "cable news" programs. Nor will we be asked to think about something as tedious as this:
VON DREHLE (4/24/21): Of Ma’Khia, we have this shard that feels important, though we don’t know exactly how or where it fits. She was in foster care. Relatives describe her as an affectionate and loving person with hopes of being restored to her mother’s custody. Even so, any path to foster care is traumatic.
[W]hile we don’t know the specific needs of this particular child, we know that in 2018, in Franklin County, where Columbus is the seat, nearly 14,000 reports of children in crisis were received. Of those, some 6,000 involved reported physical abuse, more than 2,700 involved neglect, 1,349 involved reported sexual abuse and 1,500 involved multiple offenses. The numbers were rising, according to social workers, as a result of the epidemic of opioid addiction among parents.
The most-watched cable news shows of Our Town aren't built to visit such places. In the main, our shows exist to pleasure us with highly pleasurable tribal stylings, especially concerning various people we may soon lock up.
We can't help thinking once again, about punditworld's somewhat peculiar group reaction to the Oscar-nominated film, Promising Young Woman. We were especially struck, in the past week, by Monica Hesse's odd account of the film—though we aren't quite sure what Hesse was saying in this murky passage:
HESSE (4/29/21): Maybe my current frustration with “The Handmaid’s Tale” is that the show is giving us waterboarding scenes while other scripts move the conversation about women, violence and society into new areas. In “Promising Young Woman,” Carey Mulligan’s Cassie tries to avenge her friend’s sexual assault in a way that ends up exploring issues of guilt and culpability, in a way that shows how even a righteous desire for vengeance can erode the soul. In the world of that movie, bravery has absolutely nothing to do with how many discrete traumas episodes a character can endure, or even whether she survives in the end.
"Even a righteous desire for vengeance can erode the soul?"
That's certainly true, of course. But are we really supposed to emerge from that dreamscape film with that realization?
Are we supposed to emerge with the thought that Cassie represents some sort of real person who lets her desire for vengeance swing out of control? We'll offer out thought about that film, perhaps for the final time:
In that jangly, dreamscape film, Cassie isn't simply outraged about a vast, apparently deadly injustice which has been done to a lifelong friend. She's also outraged about something she alone can see—she's also outraged about the fact that no one else actually cares.
Pundits have widely found this "divisive" film to be off-putting in some vague way. We've seen no one mention this second part of Cassie's perspective—her ability to see that no one actually cares.
In that dreamscape film, no one cares about what happened to Cassie's friend. In the real world of Our Town, no one actually cares about Tigray, or even about Franklin County. We'd rather talk dirty about Matt Gaetz.
Our pundits tend to sleepwalk through the real world. They perform their own righteous anger about the current preapproved topics, perhaps embellishing as they go, but they seem to notice little else.
Cassie noticed the world doing this. Our pundits are puzzled by her strange fury. Why is she so upset?