Mistaken identity

Who's kidding themselves? TTers sound off on Michael Jackson, Terri Schiavo and the illusions their cases create.


Salon Staff
April 1, 2005 9:18PM (UTC)

Movies

Bizarre Hatred of Random Celebrities 4

Megan Knight - 01:56 p.m. Pacific Time - March 28, 2005 - #1453 of 1530

Apparently, on a radio station today Jackson "compared himself to other 'black luminaries' persecuted by false accusations such as Nelson Mandela."

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Oh Lord, shoot me now, please, before I have to hear any more of this drivel. Comparing oneself to Nelson Mandela, Nobel laureate, widely respected statesman and all-around contemporary saint in the eyes of most of the world, seems to be a common behaviour among Americans these days, but this is too much.

Let's get this straight: he's a pop singer, a plastic surgery addict, he has an odd obsession with reliving his childhood, he lives in a theme park, he has pet chimpanzees, he appears to have almost no intellectual life at all, he has done no social good, and he has been charged with sexually assaulting children.

Mandela was a lawyer, a man born into a position of influence and power within his clan, a political activist, a boxer, a thinker, a great orator, and the president of a country. He was charged with treason, twice, and convicted, once. He survived a lengthy prison term, and emerged without bitterness or a taste for revenge. He was a key architect of one of the greatest political transformations of the 20th century, and holds much of the responsibility for the peacefulness of that transition. I don't see the similarities, unless Jackson is referring to the fact that he once had hair of a similar texture and colour to Mandela's, and skin of a similar shade.

In fact, the comparision is not only not valid, it is odious, self-obsessed and deeply deeply offensive to Mandela himself, to his family and clan, to his fellow South Africans, and to everyone who fought for the things Mandela fought for, and who hold the same values. I am still willing to believe that Jackson may be innocent of the charges laid against him, but he will remain guilty of being a trumped-up, arrogant, self-obsessed vain little pissant, with far too large an idea of his own importance. In 50 years, Jackson will be the answer to a trivia question (like Fatty Arbuckle), and Mandela will still have been one of the great statesmen of his time.

Politics

It's OK If You're a Republican, Part II

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Ron Legro - 10:29 a.m. Pacific Time - March 25, 2005 - #3973 of 4016

It's very disabling for a person to have no cerebral cortex, n'cest pas? Because, after all, it's kind of hard to think or even be a sentient being without one.

I was thinking (since I still have a functioning cortex) the other night about how the folks against removing the feeding tube are all about appearances. Subtlety doesn't merely evade them; they fear it. Quantum physics and all its probabilities and uncertainties? BAD. Biblical certaintude? GOOD. Life vs. death? GOOD. Shades of gray? BAD. People are either good or evil, and nothing in between. So are countries. So are ideas.

Because America's too busy to be bothered with the fine points and nuance that represent informed thought. Hey, no time! We've got stuff to do! And we gotta do it in a hurry, cuz I've got bills to figure out, the ballgame is on at 7 and I've still gotta grab the kids from soccer practice and somehow figure out how to make an edible meal at a reasonable price after 10 years at the office where I had to, well, THINK. Ugh. No more of that after the daily obstacle course, puh-leeze! Pop a downer, then pop in a DVD.

Which is why, in the humdrum humdrummery of daily American existence, our intellectually lazy prez-dent leads by example many willing, weary, dittohead followers. Complex ideas are by default double-plus-ungood; they are to be ridiculed, shunned, even excised from our presence.

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Because, thinking hard is just too taxing, too unsettling. We'd go nuts before we could consider all the possible variants of an issue. So, not to decide is what we decide to decide. Or, at most, choose up sides quick, then stick to your guns.

Oh, and pain is BAD, too. No time for grieving, so don't show me things that make me sad or mad. That's BAD. Most of all, don't point out how sad or mad or bad my life already is. Give me something to cling to, someone to idolize, some better place to dream of. Let me get lost in aisle 39 at Home Depot. Let me get lost on Cable Channel 548. Let me get lost on lane 6 of I-894. Losers get lost, and it's easier to find themselves in, say, God than to find their way back to reality. Never could read a road map very well. Don't like taking the back roads or eating something I never heard of, either.

So for the lost boys of America, it's never blow retreat. Never surrender. Never give an inch. Never give a sucker an even break, least of all yourself. Never let them see you sweat. Never, above all, say never.

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And remember: God is on your side, even when he's not. Activist judges are BAD, except when they're GOOD. And so on and so on and on and on and on.

Posts of the week is an ongoing feature of Table Talk, Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week may be found here in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up here.


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