Tuesday, July 23, 2013

After Dark, July 23, 2013

The Theatre of Awful
Stories are all around us and we're falling for them
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

I love theatre because, at its best, stories are spun and we cede to them and their peculiar truth speaks to us.

However the world is chock-a-block with peculiar truths - and we are treating them like good theatre: letting master story tellers seduce us into false narratives.

I don't want to belabour the Trayvon Martin story (I no longer watch CNN because they have done a good job of doing just that) but whether the narrators are on one side or the other, the simplistic tale they have told is bad guys and good. Would that this ugly case were just that. I have said elsewhere that the true story is that gun laws in the US and, especially in Florida, are the source of the tragedy but Americans desperately want to avoid the subject of guns or deal with its implications. The racism which has become a major trope in this saga is not one of Zimmerman v. Martin - it is that gun laws in America are inherently racist. Forget Newtown (what the hell, America has!); the top cause of death for black teens - 15-19 - was guns (stats announced in March, 2012). And what is "Stand Your Ground" but a case of identifying and shooting otherness?

Oh fuck! I must stop it with this one - I am depressing myself.

Is it good theatre? Not particularly.

On a relatively lighter note...

Another story the media ran with, caused a huge hubbub on Twitter and Facebook and was memed to death, was that of the Kitty-Killer, Mayor Stéphane Gendron of Huntingdon, Quebec. I got the deets on this story from the London Daily Mail, ferfuckssakes. I gotsta tell you - there are at least two groups who didn't understand the "importance" of this story. The first is bird-lovers - who blame stray cats for the destruction of bird habitats and populations - and Quebeckers. 

Gendron, mostly adored by his constituents, is a well-known crackpot of the first order. He, reportedly, sleeps in a coffin, has had a number of TV and radio shows where his job was simply to provoke comment (walking the line of incendiary, sometimes). Finally, he has a peculiar sense of humour. Few take anything he says seriously. Chances are he has never hurt a cat let alone crushed one with his car. His code is: "You're blanching at what I just said to get a rise out of you? Wait 'til your hear THIS!" People made an issue that the cohosts of his radio show when he said the atrocities said, "You're sick!" Well, yes, in Quebec that's what we say when anyone says something silly: "'Stie, t'es malade." (Or, directly translated: Communion Host, you're sick!)

But hey! why not run with a completely silly story that will make the sensitive insane and permits us to ignore real news?

All this to say that we, who are always around this stuff, should know more than anyone else when theatre is being done!

Is it good theatre? Not particularly. So why do we not also know to move on or at least say: the story is dumb, the dialogue sucks and everyone is miscast.


  1. It has been fascinating and depressing watching the news devolve into a ratings quest. It wasn’t that long ago reporters sought to bring important stories to light, those days are long gone. Now it is all about finding the ONE story and exaggerating this ONE story to the point where there is no other story. Trayvon Martin is the latest. It is all Trayvon Martin, all the time, until the ratings say otherwise. Then it will be the next ONE story all the time, and so on. Because the coverage is so obsessive, and so blind to all other things, nothing is learned or changed. There is no perspective other than the appearance that only ONE thing matters, and no other thing matters. Trayvon Martin! Trayvon Martin! Trayvon Martin! Are you bored yet? Okay. How about? The next ONE thing! The next ONE thing! The next ONE thing! On and on it goes. As people become less and less informed. And more and more obsessed.

  2. Clearly you've not been paying close attention. The current flavour of the month is to speculate on what & when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will name their baby.

  3. Isn't that happy news!!! (<sarcasm...)

  4. Hey, don't make any sarcastic comments about the monarchy! I love the monarchy. I think it is wonderful that we maintain, celebrate and remember dictatorship, the divine right of kings and the idea that one's blood trumps one's character. Aren't these things the essence of democracy? .... Oh, wait....

  5. Actually it is Anthony Weiner all the time, all the time. There can't be a better example of how the media, or the American media, is now completely focused on ratings, and the news be damned. The Anthony Weiner story has virtually no news value and maximum titillation value. Hence it is the only story in America.


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