The Worst of Times

It is important to note while watching the following very significant moment in our cultural history how the precise cause of all the rage is never defined. Everybody is mad and nobody is gonna take it anymore but nobody says who they’re mad at or why.

Network details a turning point in all our days, the time when the local dissolved in favor of the electronic Other. I remember when a dull terrain in an alternately muggy and frigid climate of indifferent options and immaterial selection was borne with whatever dignity stoic absolutes inspire, or require. You don’t hear fish complain of the damp, and we didn’t know any other potential replacement for our sterile smalltown prairie southland.

Then teevee came, and with it, an intrusion of other manners and more spectacular matter. There was all this cosmopolitan educated yankee talent out there, so we drew wagons around our plain dull existence and made a virtue out of the common, which is all we had in abundance.

And all over the country, others became disenchanted with their meager days in sight of another world mocking their own. You can detail the progress in wars: more troops were under fire for longer in the two world wars and in Korea, but rarely was heard a discouraging word – until the first teevee generation came of age during Vietnam. Then Combat Fatigue or Shell Shock took on new life as PTSD, and Agent Orange was in bloom, and all manner of tort claims and great wailings in the night were heard.

You would think this best of all possible worlds was utter depravity, for there was more complaining along the Mississippi than the Nile. So in the movie when Howard Beale orders his minions to their windows to yell out their anger, they jumped. It was the greatest of science fiction stories, in that in came true utterly with the fat ugly teabaggers and town hall brownshirts. However, schizophrenia usually means some other notion takes over the sense and sensibility of the victim, as in the wingnut rants of a Beck or a Dobbs. They remain well within the diseased purview of the Repugnant party. But Howard wanders off the reservation here, in dismissing the very media by which he and his sponsors rose. He is a loose cannon, and every now and then one of those will shoot true.

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