08/26/2016 by syrbal-labrys
Maybe I am getting soft in the head with age? I may kill my television yet. Mind you, other than a rather mindless half-listening to a bit of evening news, I haven’t actually watched any show on television in many months. I have taken in several Netflix offerings and finally succumbed to watching Game of Thrones. (Yes, yes, I love Tyrion, ok? How trite, right?)
But I find myself turning off series mid-view. There are things I just cannot do, even knowing it is the story line. I cannot watch “Criminal Minds” (not only for the loss of the beautiful Morgan) when it seems like four of seven shows involves horridly pathological pedophiles — shows that make ANY parent shudder with dread. I cannot watch swans set afire for a Henning Mankell novel being made television. And I apparently cannot watch Netflix serialize “Marco Polo” either. First, I was deeply offended by the suggestion that the young Venetian was responsible for teaching the Mongols to build and use a trebuchet. What Eurocentric white-privileged BULLSHIT! The Chinese had used trebuchets for ages by the time Marco Polo learned to bathe regularly and eat with something besides his fingers.
Last night the second deal breaker was Genghis Khan setting alight ten thousand swallows. I couldn’t get the damned images off my screen fast enough and deleted the series from my “list”. Yes, I am certain neither swans nor swallows actually burned. But it is the idea set loose in a world full of crazies that bothers me, even more than it assaults my own apparently tender sensibilities.
More and more, after decades of loving the easy opportunity to do nothing that television offers, it seems to me that the overwhelming idea shown more and more often is one of vastly insurmountable amounts of cruelty and viciousness being a condition of humanity. Yes, we certainly are apex predator assholes; I get that. But when it is more and more often so very nearly celebrated as the special preserve of “successful” conquerors and powerful men?
Well, then I begin to think the rest of us are being propagandized in a particularly brutal “beat-down” manner. A not-even-subliminal “Yeah, YOU are fucked, so give up already and bow down; pray our cops and military can save your sorry asses and say THANK YOU,” sort of message that blares into living rooms every bloody night. To adults, to children….telling all of us that our lives are marginal and there IS no better choice out there.
I hate it. I hate it. It makes the watcher feel helpless and angry, don’t you think? I remind myself that, as my marital counselor says, “Feelings are not facts.” Yes, the world IS a mess. Largely because of successful brutes, perhaps. And because of the banal evil of simply not caring what the consequences of a thousand small acts entail. But must what is presented as popular entertainment reinforce a message of helpless endangerment? Is there nothing else?
“Oh, but it is history,” you say? No, sorry — so much crap “from a true story” is more story than true. Movies and television play SO fast and loose with any version of truth that the emphasis is clearly on what shocks, appalls, and devastates rather than on any truth. “Windtalkers”, for instance, a film about the Navaho codetalkers that basically saved Allied ass in the WWII Pacific war? It became a film about white guy Nick Cage and his PTSD instead of a film about the unbreakable Navaho code. Kind of like Marco Polo allegedly teaching “Grandma” Kublai Khan how to
suck eggs build a trebuchet. It is about anything but history.
So, ask yourselves; does television or Netflix really relax you of an evening these days? Or does it simply fuel your nightmares? We all deserve better. We should demand better. Or just turn that switch OFF.