Haven’t wanted to get into the Ferguson, Missouri, story. Nobody knows what happened yet. But that’s my point today.
It reminds me of the Tour de France. The time when the sprinters start positioning themselves for the finish. Who’s going to break first for the final run, who’s waiting to be ready to overtake, who’s just setting up his team leader?
Guess I’m talking about the Tour de Media. That’s all these things are.
Something happens. It’s kind of a flash mob thing. A single spark, a tweet, an event that lights up a preconceived narrative and makes it go viral. It doesn’t have to be important. It can be but that’s not necessary. It just has to have legs and lungs and loads of larcenous leeches attached.
The Trayvon Martin case was perfect. No facts. No evidence. No common sense. The Ferguson case is like Sharknado 2, the sequel we’ve all been waiting for. We want it so bad the actual facts don’t matter. We just love the plot and the chance to indulge our favorite emotions — blaming others for things we know nothing of — until we get to feel incredibly superior about our position, regardless of whether it’s left or right.
I used the term bomb. That’s all it is. Everybody involved, anyone near the epicenter, gets hurt, often fatally. It’s the rest of us who derive the entertainment from the spectacle.
My own favorite culture bomb was the Duke Lacrosse scandal. Hey, we got to destroy the lives of four spoiled rich kids. Cool. (Always hated Duke.) The spark is struck, the tweets fly, and suddenly there’s a humongous explosion of newsprint, TV pundits, and sanctimonious opportunists frigging us to self righteous orgasms. Woweeee!!! That’s right. We’re the explosion. We’re the bomb.
This time, the victims include multiple media types. MSNBC had rocks thrown at them. Rush Limbaugh got ahead of the story, which he very rarely does, and had to retreat, grudgingly, to neutrality. This is what happens with culture bombs. The only safe place is well away from the action and the script. Why you don’t see me pontificating just now, as I could, about militarized police or black on black crime. That’s like flinging hand grenades into a nuclear reactor. For now I’m just a spectator.
But we spectators are always okay. Whatever happens is what we take credit for. I knew he was guilty. I knew he was innocent. I always had the situation nailed. Nobody can fool me.
In the meantime, you’ve been suckered one more time by the magician’s misdirection. One dead guy in Ferguson. 42 shootings last week in Chicago. How many hundreds, thousands, dead in the Middle East? In Ukraine?
The whole purpose of a culture bomb. Keep people fired up, blown up, about zilch.
Less prosaically, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Feeling better now, are we?