The Moment of Truth — March 1, 2011

When Americans Attack

Hi, I’m mejeffdorchen and welcome to the Moment of Truth: the answer, my friend, that’s blowin’ in the wind.

Have you ever seen one of these specials that come on TV every once in a while, like “Craziest Police Car Chases” or “When Animals Attack”? Well there’s this new show on called “When Americans Attack,” and it’s on all the time now, all throughout the day and night, on all different channels, so I’m sure you must’ve seen it.

What do you think of it? Don’t you think it’s weird how, on the crazy car chase and animal attack shows, the entire show will be footage of car chases or animals attacking people, but on “When Americans Attack,” the actual footage of Americans attacking things is minimal? Sometimes the whole show will be just talking heads. Sometimes it’s just some friends sitting around a livingroom cracking wise at each other. Sometimes it’s lawyers falling in love.

Sometimes it’s Americans attacking, but they’re only attacking each other, which is stupid. I mean, would those other shows ever show animals attacking each other? That would just be a nature show. Or cops chasing each other? How stupid would that be? Eh, it might be funny.

And it all looks fake. They show big muscly American guys and muscly American chicks attacking each other in the most obviously choreographed way. Or some American guy whose American girlfriend slept with his American dad will attack the dad with a chair, but it looks so fake. About the closest you get to Americans attacking anything besides each other is the footage where Americans attack vampires or outer space monsters, but even the vampires and aliens seem like Americans. And it looks totally fake.

It gets weirder late at night, when “When Americans Attack” is usually about an herbal breast enhancer or a special rotisserie oven. Sometimes they show women dancing around or playing pool and give out phone numbers you can call and I guess for 3.99 per minute one of these women will talk to you about things you as an American want to attack.

What’s REALLY weird on “When Americans Attack” is when they show footage of crazy police chases or animals going out of control. That footage often looks realistic, but one is distanced from it because it seems like a self-conscious commentary on the genre of when-things-attack shows, a kind of attack show within the attack show, which just comes across as ironic. And god knows Irony is over. What “When Americans Attack” doesn’t realize is that part of the thrill of the real attack shows is just the shear mindless joy of watching the sincere presentation of crazy chases and animal maulings.

There’s a game people are playing in traffic these days that seems somehow related to the “When Americans Attack” show, but I’m not sure exactly how. The game goes like this: whoever has a flag on their car can drive as obnoxiously and dangerously as they want.

Talk about weird cultural stuff: I was at a party the other night. Some of the guests I knew well, others I knew mostly from other parties, but I was acquainted with them all. I didn’t feel like a stranger there, is all I’m saying.

As I meandered and mingled, the general hubbub of conversation revealed, as it inevitably does at these parties, that my fellow celebrants held most or all of the following opinions: that a woman has a right to choose abortion as an alternative to pregnancy; that the way mass culture talks to itself about sex plays a restrictive role in an individual’s free expression of sexuality, and that this stunted societal sex discourse is bad for the well-being – physical, emotional, imaginative, whatnot – both of many individuals and of society as a whole; that pornography can be a lot of fun; that sexual orientation and gender identity should have no bearing whatsoever on whether a person can get insurance, hold a job, adopt children, whatnot; that George W Bush had not won the election; that minority ballots had been disproportionately disqualified in Florida, if not all over the nation; that children should not be forced into dogmatic beliefs about religion, the fate or even existence of the soul, the origin, development, or age of the universe, or the inherent superiority of any generation, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, or whatnot; and that world hunger and poverty are not issues of scarcity but of ineffective distribution, a problem that is due largely to the role of the profit motive as the driving force of the world economy.

Now I had known for quite some time that these people weren’t liberals. I’m not sure how I’d come by that knowledge, it was just something in the air. But that night was the first time I’d realized that they weren’t on the Left, either. I also found out that I’m not on the Left.

I know this because the Left is stupid and prone to making idiotic statements. Now I am neither stupid nor prone to making idiotic statements, so I am clearly not a member of the Left, and none of these other people are, either. I was informed by a med student eating taro chips that, “The Left has really said some idiotic things since nine one one,” and was asked “Why does the Left always have to denegrate the United States regardless of the issue?” and “Does the Left have no understanding of anything?”

I noticed that no one said, “The Left came out with a really insightful article yesterday,” or “The Left has voiced some legitimate worries about how this new anti-terrorist legislation is going to affect our civil rights.” It was clear that either the Left never said anything worthwhile, or if they ever did, it instantly ceased to be a leftist statement.

And evidently, no one on the Left is the least bit ambivalent about anything. They’ve all made up their minds. Some of the people at the party were uneasy about the war, but uncertain about the wisdom of NOT fighting the war. But I didn’t hear anyone say, “The Left ALSO seems uncertain about whether or not the war is an appropriate response to nine one one.”

I heard someone say, in a voice at the same time incredulous, sorrowful, disdainful, and angry, “I was at a peace march the other day, and some of the Left were claiming that bin Laden is actually fighting for valid social concerns. I had to remind them that he hates Jews and women, and some of them looked like they were hearing it for the first time.” Which I think is indeed pathetic and stupid. Anyone listening to bin Laden speak should detect the man’s at best tenuous grasp of the actual, the valid, and the social. Bin Laden in my opinion is motivated mainly by a sense of self-importance so cosmically grand that he seems almost humbled by his own divine righteousness and burdened by, though resolute in, his divine task. And I thank goodness stupid statements to the contrary are all coming from the Left, and not from MY part of the thingy.

Later on in the evening we all enjoyed a movie on the Sundance channel called “Flogging Lefty.” It was about this guy who had this crazy, annoying girlfriend called Lefty. She would dress and cut her hair really weird just to be different, and she would dance around the streets giving out flowers to glowering business people, and she cooked the guy all this dry, horrible vegan food, and she would go out into the streets to protest anything at the drop of a hat, and chant the most monotonous, idiotic slogans in unison with all her equally stupid friends.

So the big scene in the movie was when the boyfriend took his girlfriend Lefty to this funeral. The boyfriend’s uncle, I think his name was Sam, had suffered a horrible tragedy. Some Arab had purposely crashed his car into Uncle Sam’s house killing himself and all Uncle Sam’s children. And after the funeral when everyone was milling around, Lefty was just being her same stupid, embarrassing self, saying inappropriate things to the other mourners, and finally Lefty actually went up to the grieving Uncle Sam and said, “Hey, wasn’t that sick guy who killed your kids the same guy you bought that gun for, and who you used to take to that firing range where the targets are all realistic paintings of menacing Russian soldiers? And you used to yell at him, åKill, Muhammed! Kill kill kill!’”

At that point the boyfriend, our protagonist, just couldn’t take it anymore. He had already been making loud comments by which he meant to dissociate himself from Lefty and her behavior. But now he grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her away from everyone else, off to the left, as it happens. And he took out a whip and just started flogging her and flogging her with it. And the whole third act was shot from his POV, and it was just Lefty getting flogged for about twenty minutes until it faded to black and the end credits rolled. And I guess that was why the movie was called “Flogging Lefty.”

And then, after the movie, “When Americans Attack” came on. It was a surreal or dada episode that I think David Lynch must have directed. This chef kept attacking the food he was cooking, he would be talking about New Orleans, though he had a north-end Boston accent, which I guess was meant to symbolize the breadth of the American culinary experience, and every few seconds The AMERICAN Chef would ATTACK the food, he would viciously throw stuff into it and yell, “BAM!”

I don’t know. “When Americans Attack” is so unfocused, so scattered, trying to be all things to all people. It’s the kind of show you figure will be canceled after a few weeks, and then before you know it it’s in reruns three times a day on Fox. Like that Home Improvement show. It just goes on forever, regardless of how crappy it is.

I’m mejeffdorchen and that was the Moment of Truth.