Monday, March 06, 2006

From Apathy to Despair to Redemption

I missed last night's incendiary 60 Minutes report about the torture and death of two Afghan prisoners of the US Army. I didn’t even know anything about it till this morning. Instead, Sarah and I tuned in as the Hooray-for-Hollywood, back-slapping, big-time film awards were being handed out live on the TV. It was a decent affair, I suppose, though, I hadn’t been out to see any of the big titles up for a prize. Host Jon Stewart was smartly funny enough but somewhere between the handful of pathetic music numbers and the MPAA president’s scolding of the movie-loving public for preferring DVDs and home theaters to over-priced, cell-phone-beset, multi-plexes, my interest faded out. I eventually wound up catching the Dirty Jobs marathon over on the Discovery Channel.

I tracked down the 60 Minutes piece this morning. You can get the entire report on their website both in video and transcript. It’s about as nauseating as you’d expect. Scapegoating is so IN these days, it seems. And as this administration begins to tank, and more and more evidence surfaces about torture being a cross-agency policy (even an extra-agency policy as there’s been plenty of non-military contractors involved), we’re gonna be seeing plenty more finger pointing and “a few bad apples” speeches. Get ready.

The sickening, end-justifies-the-means, moral-ebola type thinking behind this “information gathering initiative” (aka: torture) has made us no better than our enemies. As a nation, we have become lost in the wilderness*. As our own fear eats us alive from the inside out, what dignity have we left? What claim to morality can this generation possibly make again? Where we were once the shining city on the hill, we’re now the crack house on the block; armed to the teeth and too tweaked to not be afraid of our own shadow, let alone anyone else’s. Indeed, in every way, we’ve become no better than those who wish us harm. And if that's the case, then just what are we fighting for?

Well, shit. Here I sit nearly catatonic. Nihl obstat everything. If only for a few moments. If only cuz that’s how I feel just right now.

And as that Nothing passes, I’m left thinking of the future, redemption, change. Too big to chew on right now. So, let’s take the easy way out. Let’s bring this whole post full circle.

In less than two weeks, the film V for Vendetta will be released. I’m a HUGE fan of the graphic novel. My brother gave it to me for my birthday about ten years ago. And I can’t thank him enough. The book resonated with me emotionally, spiritually, intellectually as it has with so many of its fans over the almost two decades since its first, serialized release. (See the reviews and promo items for a plot summary if you like.) By all accounts, the film treatment has done the book justice for the most part. The heavy political and philosophical implications and questions remain intact if a little more submerged than in its previous form. I find it encouraging and inspiring that politically subversive cinema can still reach a mass audience in this age of institutionalized capitulation to the powers that be.

There. Ending on an upbeat feels much better.

*Yea, yea, I'm well aware of the various Central American ops in the 80's. The election-rigging, the dictator-propping, the death squads. And before that, of course, there was Vietnam and before that Sen. McCarthy, and before that Manifest Destiny, and so on and so on. Nothing exsists in a vaccuum and there's nothing new under the sun. I know. But, like I said, it's just the way I feel right now.

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