Posts Tagged Commercialization
They were banging wildly at the windows. Bloody, barbeque sauce stained hands clutching at whatever they could grab. We had kept them at bay by throwing of the store’s stock of McRibs through the drive-thru window into the parking lot. The horde of undead monsters gobbled them up, consuming them in a grotesque span of seconds. In their fiendish delirium, they could no longer tell the difference between human life and a dollar ninety-nine cent sandwich (2.99 in some markets). The five of us were about to become a very unhappy meal.
There was Janet, the waitress, Addams, the cop, McBain, the lawyer with great hair, and The Doctor. They had gone through their lives secretly wondering when their hour would finally come round. They never would have believed they would perish terribly, mistaken for a limited time sandwich. I had dressed well, anticipating teaching an excellent day of thought provoking history classes. Instead, I was going to be eaten by zombies at my local neighborhood McDonald’s.
Janet: We should feed them something else.
Addams: We should not feed them, it will just encourage them.
McBain: We should reason with them.
Me: We should run.
Doctor: I’m a doctor.
Janet: We should scare them.
Addams: We should shoot them.
McBain: We should trick them.
Me: We should hide.
Doctor: I’m a doctor.
Janet: We should climb out through the air conditioning ducts.
Addams: We should set off an explosion in the parking lot.
McBain: We should wait for the army to save us.
Me: We should help them.
Doctor: I’m a doctor!
(Banging on the windows is growing louder)
Janet: We should feed them the cop.
Addams: We should feed them the lawyer.
McBain: We should feed them the poor.
Me: We should try to understand them.
Doctor: I’m a Doctor!
Janet: We should fight them with our mop handles.
Addams: We should make an example of one of them and scare the others.
McBain: We should poison the McRibs, then feed them to the zombies.
Me: We should educate them.
Doctor: I am a….Doctor!!!!!
(More zombies pounding on the windows. The zombie moaning is becoming intolerable)
Janet: We should protest their actions.
Addams: We should show no fear.
McBain: We should see if we can pay them to go away.
Me: We should build them houses.
Janet: We should raise their taxes!
Addams: We should use our weapons!
McBain: We should offer them a simplified tax code that does not punish job creators!
Me: We should offer them adequate dental care!!!!
Doctor: I am a doctor…I am a doctor….I am a doctor! I’m a Doctor!!!
(The glass in the main window begins to crack. Zombies swarm towards opening with horrific glee.)
Janet: We should pray with them.
Addams: We should pray for them.
McBain: We should pray for ourselves.
Me: We should love them.
Doctor: I am a doctor????
(The window shatters and the zombies pour through)
Janet: This can’t happen; I’m too young.
Addams: This can’t happen; I have a family.
McBain: This can’t happen; this is America
Me: This can’t happen; we’ve acted honorably.
Doctor: This can’t happen; I’m a doctor.
The zombies attack and overwhelm us. Lots of gore and guts and gizzards and grossness. You’ve seen this movie before or at least one like it. Just make up your own ending. Mine is…They all die. Alone.
No Love Lost
Numbing feelings dead
Synthesized broken hearts to bled
Without emotion your heartstrings played
Strummed and severed to the tune of a tragic serenade
[A tragic chorus]
Without emotion, your heartstrings break
Snapped and severed to the tune of a tragic, sad cliche
No love lost
When all is said and done
There’s no love lost
The low cost of loving
Human frailties and weakness are easy prey
How your poor heart will bleed
The modern conception of romantic love is nothing short of vulgar. I do not mean vulgar in the sense of it being lewd or lascivious, but more so remarkably crass and repulsively commercialized. One of the more humiliating acts that exist in our culture is that of picking out a card for a loved ones birthday. The well-intentioned shopper is immediately met with all forms of syrupy sweet, ersatz garbage that pass for a genuine expression of feeling. Being told “I love you” Hallmark style is the equivalent of having some dude in a lime green leisure suit approach you and tell you that we should get rid of all the letters in the way so that “U and I can get together.” Love can seem like an ill-concieved, ham-handed con with all the charm of one of those insidious pop-ups that try to convince the barely sentient of the rich rewards that will be showered on them if only they surrender their credit card number. It is not hard to understand the disgust that would motivate Jeff Walker to write the words in “No Love Lost”.
While I am in complete agreement with the notion that love has been trivialized, I can’t climb on board with the idea that there is no such thing as love. The following admission is probably going to get my universal skeptic license suspended for the next six months, but, in all honesty, love is the one con I simply cannot renounce. I want to believe that there is a category of human experience that transcends our own personal needs and allows us, even momentarily, to exist for another. I want to think that there is more to life than survival and that we have a deeper need for connection to other humans. There must be more than just dumb, barely animate material wandering aimlessly from cradle to grave. I believe that many people share an essential longing to understand each other, to see their neighbors as beings dealing with the same existential dilemmas as themselves, struggling to find some compassion or empathy and aspiring to give that gift to another even though nothing tells them they have to. The best approximation of these feelings and desires is the word love.
Maybe this understanding reflects the cynicism expressed in “No Love Lost”. Imagine desperately wanting to feel the connection to others and being given back nothing but Hugh Grant movies and power ballads. Trying to come to terms with love in our contemporary carnival of cheap thrills and easy answers is a demoralizing task. If I am ever to really conceptualize what love means my expression of it will be minimized by the fact that the language I have to communicate it has been co-opted by a bunch of soft-sell dream peddlers who are more concerned about appealing to a demographic representation of males 25-34 than finding deeper human truths. Why not look at the Love Industry with scorn? After all, it has robbed us of our full means to relate something significant and meaningful to the world. Instead of filling us with a feeling of awe and reverence, the word fills so many seekers of reality with bitterness and irritation.
Maybe the real demonstration of the transcendent power of love is whether it can overcome the cesspool of a market in which it now resides. Occasionally there are human truths that possess so much power that they can surmount any obstacle set before them. That’s what I’d like to believe, anyway. For us to believe that love is real maybe we need to see that it can be debased in every way imaginable and still carry meaning. Or maybe those who sell it have uncovered the terrible truth; that love is simply an inducement to get the suckers to buy more of what they don’t need. Give them the fantasy of love and they’ll gladly exchange it for safety, freedom and power over their own lives. I desperately hope that this isn’t so.
(This series is being co-published by the folks over at MindOverMetal.org. Check’em out!)