Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stampedes and shoot outs

Hi Everyone,

You will have noticed that I have just posted a bunch of entries that I have been doing for a little blog called Neighbor Bee. Being brought up in an Irish Catholic family, I have always been passionate about thrift. It was a principle my parents taught me that was originally about simply saving a dollar. Recently for me it has been a kind of lifestyle, a throw back to the aesthetics, Christ even. Throwing off the temptations of the material world has
always been a stylish counter culture, and recently, it has become a necessity, and since I have been living under the radar for very little, and constantly scoffing at TV commercials and the brainwashing that we call life here in America. I will be doing some more posting on the history of commerce (as it relates to human psychology, as I started here

I will also let you in on the secrets of my thrifty life. Well, they aren't secrets, really. As anyone who knows me will attest, if you compliment me on an outfit, I will quickly tell you how cheap it was, and where I got it.

So, on the heals of a very black Black Friday, I have decided to stop keeping my opinions (or my shopping secrets) to myself.

I should make it clear that I like to live ethically and inexpensively, I have a fine taste. I like rich wine, the best food, good style, and fine entertainment. This will not actually be a poor man's life. It will be made of the finest luxuries, with a higher consciousness.

So, as I said, this Black Friday was black indeed. I made cheeky jokes about consumerism in the US in my last post, but I didn't think there would be actual deaths involved. I didn't think that a part-time security guard would get trampled in a stampede in a Long Island Walmart, or that there would be an actual shoot out in Toys R Us in Palm Desert, CA.

I can't even begin to tell you how disturbing and yet how utterly unsurprising these events were. I don't even really feel like I can write about it and draw comparisons about low prices with high costs or something of that nature. In fact, the L A Times treatment of it is somewhat ridiculous. The mention of the man pulling his gun from his baggy pants, the interview with the three-year-old child, and the graphic are all such caricatures of news that I found myself thinking of The Wire's Scott Templeton.

From The Wire website:
The self-promoting Templeton is hungry and willing to go to great lengths for a plum assignment. His prose reflects his ambition: overwrought with a tendency towards exaggeration.

Templeton goes to great lengths to break the great story. First inventing handicap children, then fabricating details of a Vet's story, and finally entangling himself in a fake murder investigation, by faking a phone call from a nonexistent serial killer. If you haven't seen The Wire, please go out now and buy it or rent it. Every season is fantastic, and a fine critique of police, schools, government, journalism, and society in general.

Now, being a writer, my beef is not with the writer of the article in the LA Times. Who can blame her, him, excuse me THEM for this. I'm sure that they didn't choose to make the media this way, but this insistence on sensationalism forces a narrative that is just not necessary. The story itself is the narrative, and I don't think it needs any embellishments. I just can't help but think that a writer on a story like this is pressured in to getting an angle that someone else doesn't have. Thus the poor three-year-old is thrown in there:
Outside Pizza Hut, where witnesses were being interviewed, 3-year-old Landon Stitt sat on the grass munching on his pizza. He spoke matter-of-factly, almost as if he was describing a video game.

"I saw it," he said. "They were fighting. They were shooting." He shaped his fingers into a gun, then fired into the air.
How is the phrase "almost as if describing a video game" relevant? What is that supposed to mean? I get it that we are dealing with the potential desensitization of an entire generation, but doesn't the shoot out itself give us this information? Isn't the witnessing Jingle All the Way meets Grand Theft Auto enough?

I can just hear the response. It's important to "find the the human angle" in every story. But why bother when the story sadly enough is so utterly human?

And don't even get me started on this map.

Oh, thanks, LA Times. If you hadn't drawn that nifty graphic, I would not have know that the shooting took place in Toys R Us, on a highway, next to some roads. That's a very informative map.

Finally, the article couldn't end without throwing in that Toys R Us would not like it if we associated this with Black Friday:

"Our understanding is that this act seems to have been the result of a personal dispute between the individuals involved. Therefore, it would be inaccurate to associate the events of today with Black Friday," the statement said.
Wow, yeah, sure, maybe it didn't have anything to do with Black Friday, but come on really? Must we be so sanctimonious about Black Friday? It is a stupid day that makes people do stupid things. I don't blame Black Friday either, but I also don't feel the need to refute the symbolism inherent in the events of Friday November 28th.

I haven't even touched the more tragic of the two stories. That of the man who was stampeded in the Walmart. Toys R Us may be right about their shoot out, maybe it didn't have anything to do with Black Friday. Walmart's stampede however, had so much to do with Black Friday and the insanity it can breed. Although blame is being thrown left and right, this is a larger problem then some lawyers and a trial can sort out. It's us, everyone. It's us unless we resist.

I will just end by telling you that after the man who died and the pregnant woman who was injured were carted away...people continued to SHOP.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Finally found you my long lost daughter,
Love your Dad - Larry London