Why death is no big deal.
March 1, 2005 11:10 PM   Subscribe

Why death is no big deal.
posted by TiredStarling (52 comments total)
oh come on now!
posted by newfers at 11:43 PM on March 1, 2005

What, nothing about Romero?

I'm more interested in the really unknown deaths. How many KIA in Afghanistan?
I don't know. Does anyone? (whatever were doing - apparently we're kicking ass!)
For that matter what the hell are any of our troops doing in the pacific?

I mean, what is Kennedy's point? That we don't care?
There's not a damn thing we (as readers) can do to stop it. It's either ignore it and try to generally avoid exploiting people and allowing others to do it in our name or go insane with impotent frustration.
He's really being Captain Obvious here. Yep Kiehl died and Lynch is a hero. Lots of folks who often don't wear underwear do things in the service they can't take credit for. America has screwed lots of folks and continues to do so on a regular basis.
Yeah. So?
We shut it down then?
Corporations screw people on a regular basis. As do lawyers, car makers, etc. etc.
Many many people die in car accidents or from dog bites, drowning, electrocution, fire, suffocation, etc. and much of that is unjust too.

Is Kennedy not aware that many of us are working on this problem to varying degrees and areas?
You think about all the things you can do nothing about and you'll go goofy.
I mean what was the weird smell over Chicago?

I dunno. Nothing I can do about it. Guess I'll go to work tomorrow.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:46 PM on March 1, 2005

posted by atom128 at 11:54 PM on March 1, 2005

Well, yeah, as far as I can interpret it, he's saying that the modern media-savvy western mind is not capable of caring greatly about death in the news unless there's some juicy bit of gossip attached.

We can't bear to really face death in the news these days because of the simple fact that their is so damn much of it. We've become numb. There is no differentiation between one dead soldier and another. Soldiers die and we move on. civilians in war zones die and we move on. Oh well. Life's tough isn't it? There's nothing to be done.

Now celebrities, we kNOW them, don't we? We know their movies and their likes and dislikes. Their lovers and ex-lovers, their political views and when anything at all happens to them, we feel directly connected and thus our empathy and interest spikes.

Or I could be completely wrong. Fuck it, who wants pie?
posted by Parannoyed at 12:00 AM on March 2, 2005

posted by shmegegge at 12:05 AM on March 2, 2005

What an artless polemic.
posted by kjh at 12:07 AM on March 2, 2005

Yeah, so murder and suffering are now automated to point of banality. But 24 is on!
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:10 AM on March 2, 2005

Abdul Wali, he's dead now. He died after being interrogated by a CIA contractor in Afghanistan, but so what?

So what indeed. If the author is honestly asking the question, the so the fuck what about his self-contradictory article?
posted by tweak at 12:12 AM on March 2, 2005


honestly, is there no limit to sarcasm?
posted by tweak at 12:14 AM on March 2, 2005

Well, that was good.

It'll still get shot down by people, but it was good.
posted by blacklite at 12:34 AM on March 2, 2005

He beats us over the head with his point, but the point is good. The public just doesn't care enough about what's happening in the "war against terrorism". Most of us are hard put to it just coping with our daily lives, let alone becoming politically active. But there are always people who go and do something about injustice and suffering, and then there are people in the middle, often journalists, who choose inform others about what needs to be done so that some of the apathetic might go out and do something.

I think there is stuff we can do, it just involves way more sacrifice for way less progress, especially in the short term, than most of us are willing to make. (The sacrifice, not the progress)

Since I don't watch TV, for me it's "Death and sorrow and war and murder... hmm, what are my blogs doing? Any new FPPs?" but it's all the same.
posted by sninky-chan at 12:42 AM on March 2, 2005

The whole thing's a big bleeding gash of scarcasm and (I guess justifiable) anger, and then the pay-off - "we can get over anything" - seems to contradict all of that. It does to me, anyhow. I mean , I think we can get over anything, and we do have to, in order to carry on with (and maybe do some good in) our own lives.
The article seems to be possessed by the same spirit that inhabits drunken post-break-up rants that you can hear in bars all over the world - some bloke is moaning about how no one cares about his very real, very sad troubles and you listen and nod, listen and nod, give a quizzical look at the end and then go home realising that no point was EVER going to be made.
Still, I guess it was written with enough skill to keep me reading to the (disappointing) end
posted by bunglin jones at 12:47 AM on March 2, 2005

Read without irony, it's painfully flip; read with irony, it's insulting. I agree with his politics, but his writing style really grates on my nerves. Not post-worthy.

On preview, what bunglin' said, except the keep-reading part, which I didn't do. I skipped to the bottom.
posted by squirrel at 12:59 AM on March 2, 2005

A.L. Kennedy is a woman (she's a Scottish novelist).

posted by CKZ at 1:08 AM on March 2, 2005

Well, there you go, then.
posted by squirrel at 1:19 AM on March 2, 2005


TiredStarling, how is this notable? I mean, more notable then any other ranting at mass media irrelevance in the face of institutionalized atrocities?

Of all the n-spheres of negativity to offer others, why this one in particular? Perhaps, if you provide some context as to how you related to this, I could catch some of the redeeming subtlety or grace.

On preview, what pretty much everyone else said.
I wish I thought of using the word polemic
posted by johnjoe at 1:23 AM on March 2, 2005

actually, I was just thinking that johnjoe's version was the best put, even without the word polemic.

If the post only has an article, no other commentary, then we have to assume that the article is obviously stellar. This one isn't.

Therefore, we all would have appreciated some kind of idea as to what you thought was most front page worthy about the article.
posted by shmegegge at 1:27 AM on March 2, 2005

shmegegge - For the record, you don't speak for me. When you say "we all would have appreciated", you may have meant "I would have appreciated". Just so that you know.

I liked the piece.
I especially like that she sees fit to destroy the myth of Jimmy Carr in so very few words.

It wasn't about you (the amorphous "you") not caring, it was about the media not allowing you to care about the important things. It was about how the things which you base you views around are increasingly likely to involve the vacuous notion of celebrity, rather than the very real notion of humanity.

Yeah. So?
We shut it down then?

Yeah. Maybe we should try that.
posted by NinjaPirate at 2:04 AM on March 2, 2005

and, of course, kudos for "polemic" - it's a beautiful word for an unpalatable thing
posted by NinjaPirate at 2:06 AM on March 2, 2005

Brutal. Thanks for the post.

I'm reminded of a movie I like. Rediscovered thanks to AskMe, the title is "Fall Time". I bought it and saw it a second time. It's brutal. I love the movie more now, simply because it left a horrible distaste for violence. How refreshing is that?
posted by Goofyy at 2:49 AM on March 2, 2005

Ninj, I agree with what you agree with in the editorial, but I think it would have been more effective had it not been so whiny. "Blah blah blah, as if anyone cared" and so forth doesn't reach me as well as "blah blah blah isn't being covered and it's a disgrace."

And I liked polemic, too. MeFites are a nerdy bunch.
posted by squirrel at 2:50 AM on March 2, 2005

I think the most interesting thing about this so far is probably that everyone thought AL Kennedy was a man until corrected... why was that? Masculine style?
posted by tannhauser at 2:56 AM on March 2, 2005

I think it's good. Triggers thought & uncomfortableness about media and coverage and representation.
posted by blacklite at 2:57 AM on March 2, 2005

tannhauser: sexist presumption.
blacklite: "discomfort."
posted by squirrel at 3:03 AM on March 2, 2005

Polemic, yes. Artless, no. And if it makes you uncomfortable and/or annoyed: Good. Excellent. Job well done.
posted by flabdablet at 3:20 AM on March 2, 2005

The name on the door says "AL Kennedy" and the burgeoning teen web cabal encourages you to take no notice of capitalisation.

It's the same as if she was called "Sally Anne Marie Kennedy". Not so sure I'd go so far as to say "sexist presumption", but yes, sexist presumption.
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:24 AM on March 2, 2005

the myth of Jimmy Carr

What myth would that be? This is one of the problems with the piece. Why does the fact that a comedian appears quite frequently on TV in fluffy Top 100 type programmes mean that people aren't interested in suffering? I don't turn over from the news because I've been told I have to watch the Top 100 bitchiest TV moments with Jimmy Carr.

There is a point to be made about how humans react to different types of suffering but this isn't it. Get out of my face until you've got something to say, shouty woman.
posted by Summer at 3:29 AM on March 2, 2005

Do you turn over because of his boundless seam of deadpan wit? This is the myth of JC.
He's a one-trick pony, and the pony was pretty old to start with.

Not that I'm advocating turning Mr Carr into glue.
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:55 AM on March 2, 2005

The myth of Jimmy Carr is presumably that he should be on television.

However, leaving aside the phrase "shouty woman", I think that's a problem - that it presupposes that you cannot care both about Geri Halliwell's sex life and the death of your countrymen in Iraq. This is an attitude I find quite a lot in the liberal middle class in Britain - that there is a sort of intellectual or moral cowardice implicit in giving one's attention to popular entertainment that means it somehow bars you from caring about anything else. On the other hand, there seems to be no such contradiction in spending the evening at the opera, or at a poetry reading, ven though these things are just as distracting from the constant contemplation of the injustice of the war in Iraq.

I can certainly understand frustration with the style and subject matter of reporting in the British media, but there's something cosily guardianista about telling us that celebrity gossip is unworthy subject matter. I don't read supermarket tabloids, I don't know who Jordan is shagging (the femtoceleb rather than the country), but I don't assume that everybody who does is part of a grand conspiracy between media and audience to stifle deeper thinking. The Mirror combined an interest in celebrities with front-page opposition to the war in Iraq, for starters. It also presupposes, in a rather nasty way, that personal grief can be equated with grief at the deaths of civilians or servicemen one has never met, suggesting that Sun readers don't feel pain the way we clever, politically engaged people do.

I like AL Kennedy's writing, but this is not a good example of it - it is not a coherent piece. I'd like her to have had a better handle on what exactly she was seeking to criticise - the fact that the media do not prioritise news coverage in what she believes is a responsible fashion, the way people cope with the knowledge of injustices being perpetrated by their governments, the way the world piles horror upon horror and why nothing is done about it?
posted by tannhauser at 3:56 AM on March 2, 2005

Thanks goodness Jimmy Carr got mentioned. My missus and I have been utterly perplexed by his appearance on our television.

He seems to have the 'Robbie Savage gene'. Might be a nice bloke, may even have some talent, but as soon as you see him you think he's a c*nt.
posted by Frasermoo at 4:16 AM on March 2, 2005

Summer, the myth of Jimmy Carr is something that NinjaPirate wrote, not the writer of the article who said -

"I think I should want to see more and more and more of Jimmy Carr..."

I think she is referring to the ongoing Tony Slatteryfication of Mr Carr on TV right now.
posted by longbaugh at 4:31 AM on March 2, 2005

(damn you longbaugh, my comments were nearly mistaken for those of a published author.
I won't forget this day...)
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:18 AM on March 2, 2005

shmegegge - For the record, you don't speak for me. When you say "we all would have appreciated", you may have meant "I would have appreciated". Just so that you know.

No, he meant we all would have appreciated this very lame FPP having some more content.
posted by berek at 5:32 AM on March 2, 2005

I think that the real problem with this essay is that it assumes that in order to show grief or sorrow, one must do it 24 hours a day. This is never the case. Someone who has lost a relative may grieve, but they will also make dinner, watch television, and do all the other day to day tasks that one takes for granted. This doesn't mean that they don't care; it just means that life has to go on. Just because someone reads trashy tabloids doesn't mean that they don't also care about the suffering of others. Note also that there is an implicit criticism of low class amusements in this arguments. When we are warned by the author that we are being distracted, it is always by low class amusements, never by the kind of art and poetry which she mighty enjoy. She would criticize a man who watches Jerry Springer, but would not criticize the man who watches Masterpiece Theater. Neither one is currently thinking about the war in Iraq, or any other meaningful issue, yet the only amusements which are disrespectful to the dead and dieing are the kind which she does not like.
posted by unreason at 5:44 AM on March 2, 2005

Scottish novelists rock hardcore. Scotland is home to a fine radical writing community, especially concentrated in science fiction, that is also highly engaged in domestic and foreign affairs.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:55 AM on March 2, 2005

but his writing style really grates on my nerves. Not post-worthy.

Well shit! Stop the Earth, I want to get off...
posted by c13 at 6:26 AM on March 2, 2005

unreason said it. It reminds me (with some embarrassment) of my own thinking when I was in my early teens. Or the jejune narcissism of Salinger's Holden Caulfield.

Writing this way as an adult is either an instance of maintaining an exquisite childlike innocence or destructive contempt for humanity and one's self.
posted by Cassford at 6:31 AM on March 2, 2005

Tony Slattery - the Steve Guttenburg of British alternative comedy. Still, 'fucking wood chop boy' is a memorable line in Peter's Friends, along with 'two-week fuck-fest'.

An argument couid be made that some forms of (escapist) entertainment have more to offer the soul than other forms.

The idea that the media are in the business of distracting us rather than informing us is not exactly revelatory, but it does bear repetition.

Still, I would have to agree that this is not a fantastic post. Maybe TiredStarling feels as passionately as Kennedy on this subject, but a better constructed post might riff on her themes a bit more solidly in the link department.
posted by asok at 6:57 AM on March 2, 2005

An argument could be made that some forms of (escapist) entertainment have more to offer the soul than other forms.

True, but her argument isn't that reading the Sun doesn't nourish the soul, it's that it distracts one from the real issues. My point is that you're just as distracted from real issues when you read Shakespeare as you are when you read Steven King.
posted by unreason at 7:12 AM on March 2, 2005

The Steve Guttenburg Press allowed the previously specialised and slow-to-copy actor to be swiftly reproduced both cheaply and in seemingly limitless numbers.

From this base of quantity they were applied widley and across disciplines to innumerable circumstances. All of them within the "Police Academy" and "3 Men" series.

This mass-application of Steve Guttenberg meant that the value of actors was irreparably debased.

[/history lesson]
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:14 AM on March 2, 2005

And if it makes you uncomfortable and/or annoyed: Good. Excellent. Job well done.

Sorry, flabdablet, effective communication requires more than merely being annoying. If this were true, performance artists and commercial actors would rule the world. Fortunately, annoying isn't enough.
posted by squirrel at 7:41 AM on March 2, 2005

It's important to remember:

"[N]o one has a monopoly on suffering." - Elie Wiesel
posted by kalessin at 11:40 AM on March 2, 2005

Who the hell is Jimmy Carr?
posted by Sparx at 11:53 AM on March 2, 2005

Recent studies indicate that people have been dying for years.
posted by HTuttle at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2005


"We all" was meant to imply "We all who have spoken up in criticism of this piece/post."

You're right. I obviously don't represent you. I mean, that's obvious, right? Who could possibly think I represented the entire metafilter community?

It's silly, right? Completely insane to even think that I would possibly have meant that, right?
posted by shmegegge at 12:52 PM on March 2, 2005

HTuttle: you have to sound more jaded about it. Try adding this line: "But hey, Jimmy Carr's on, right? I'm going to change the channel."

See, that makes it deep.
posted by shmegegge at 12:54 PM on March 2, 2005

Why death is no big deal.

I liked the article OK. It speaks some truth.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:55 PM on March 2, 2005

This reminds me of two things: first, the guy I used to work with who got mad at all of us for watching the World Series and being interested "while there's a war on, and people are dying!" Second, those funny little bumper stickers that say "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention!" Both suggest that the proper state of human existence, especially "in these times, with the way things are, and all!" is constant, unending, grueling, neurotic affectation. "No, this movie isn't funny; people are dying!"

The demand that everyone else feel shame and disgust at themselves is just as selfish as the weird modern notion that everything will be okay at the end of the program. The solution isn't to grump around like this author; the solution is to learn to laugh at the right things, cry at the right things, and become more sensitive and sensible about the world around us.

Since, as someone above pointed out, this amounts to a poor caricature of the poor caricature that is Holden Caulfield, and since this kind of wheezing and whinging is probably worse even that what the Guardian is usually capable of, this isn't really a good FPP.
posted by koeselitz at 2:01 PM on March 2, 2005

Read without irony, it's painfully flip

yes and for me that was the point. i hear painfully flip comments all day every day about things that should make us vomit.
posted by nola at 2:26 PM on March 2, 2005

A.L. Kennedy once described her Guardian pieces as "frothing nonsense", a description with which I would not disagree. However, I always enjoy reading them. So passionate, so angry, and so crashingly obvious .. as Oscar Wilde said of the death of Little Nell, one would need a heart of stone not to laugh.
posted by verstegan at 3:26 PM on March 2, 2005

Rant and rave loud enough and it's bound to be called poignancy and truth.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:18 PM on March 2, 2005

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