Okay, so Amy Winehouse is dead. That’s something I guess. I’ve read every opinion on this subject from ‘fuck her I’m glad she’s finally dead’ to ‘what a tragedy…so young’ and while I guess I tend to side with the latter opinion, human beings are really, really ghoulish when they’re dealing with the abstractions of celebrity life and/or things that go on far away from them, so I’m not even remotely surprised by the former opinion.
Lots of people this weekend were saddened by what happened in Norway, which is, no two ways about it, a senseless tragedy. Lots of people in America, and presumably all over the world also said things like “who gives a fuck if some asshole in Norway blew up a couple of Norwegians.” I get that mentality. I do. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. In the day to day of waking up, working some shitty job, eating some crappy lunch, going back to the shitty job, crapping out some greasy turd in some filthy, sweaty bathroom cube, taking the train to the check cashing place, waiting in line, dealing with some onion-smelling lard ass, shoveling down some shitty dinner, making conversation with someone you foolishly ended up living with because A) you were dumb enough to fuck them one too many times or B) you seemed like a couple of dudes who wouldn’t bum each other out too badly, drinking yourself into oblivion, passing out on top of your sweaty, swirled up sheets and then waking up to “I Got You Babe” on the clock radio and doing it all again, yeah, what the fuck does some group of dead assholes in Norway have to do with anything? Who cares about some dead junkie? My life sucks ass and nothing’s gonna change that. People die all the time. I’ve gotta fucking stop and take stock of the universe every time someone dies? Fuck that. I’ll keep my sympathies local.
I get that, but it’s (of course) an unbelievably selfish and myopic point of view, one that we really love to cultivate here in the US (and now, here in the future, where everyone has a portal to the universe and a point of view and a viewable opinion, we’ve taken myopic selfishness to the level of art-form, but anyway). The thing that’s so funny about the people that tend to be the most staunchly ‘fuck strangers’ is that they’re the same people that (in my experience) bitch the loudest about stubbed toes, shitty bosses, fat wives, limp dicked husbands and other things that are (really, truly) interesting/important to nobody but themselves. It’s kind of reductive to simply call it childish, since there’s a level of xenophobia and pro-idiocy-agenda that’s also part of it, but since I deal with two little monsters every day who truly, honestly have no conception that there are other people in the world who also hurt and want and miss and all that, and that’s what all this reminds me of the most closely, I’m gonna go ahead and just call it childish.
(I know, ‘childish’ is reductive and not quite right. It’s like when someone says that Cameron Diaz is “hot.” Of course she’s not hot. She looks like Yoda, stretched, tanned, taxidermied and disgraced with a hideous wig/makeup drag situation, but due to her richness, her relative fitness, the way she carries herself, the fact that most dudes are dong-powered-hogs that would fuck anything that moves and her fame, we understand that she’s SUPPOSED to be hot. There’s no real word for that, so ‘hot’ is what we’re left with. It’s cultural shorthand).
The thing that I find somewhat fascinating in both these cases is the way that people are using sudden deaths to push agendas. This is hardly new, as nothing motivates like a corpse, (ask all those people who are suddenly slathering at the bit for arbitrary time limits put on how long you can wait before you report a child’s death) but for whatever reason it seems super overt and gleeful right now. The people who are “glad” Amy Winehouse is dead are SO stoked. People are thrilled to be throwing around words like ‘dumb junkie hack’ and so forth, as though she’s really ever done anything but sing some songs and get fucked up. That’s hardly a personal affront to anyone except for maybe her parents. I mean, at the risk of bumming people out, Kurt Cobain couldn’t hold it together any better than she could. They both died at 27 and he had a fucking kid! That’s about a zillion times more irresponsible. But THAT was a tragedy. This time it’s a junkie getting what they deserve, which is interesting enough, but even the JOKES I see about this Amy Winehouse death are just mean spirited. I’ve seen exactly one funny joke, which I’ll attribute to my buddy Rich Gill who posted it on facebook and that was “congratulations to Lilly Allen on a long, hard fought victory.” The reason that’s funny is because while it comes quickly on the heels of death (making it seem tabooish) it’s really not mean spirited, except that it openly mocks Lilly Allen’s dumb sense of egomaniacal competition with Winehouse, who honestly didn’t seem all that aware of Lilly Allen (or much else, I guess).
But see, the point is, that’s how you joke about dead folks. You have to make it FUNNY. Mean isn’t funny and funny isn’t mean, because funny trumps everything. If a joke is truly, TRULY funny, it’s not mean, racist, sexist, homophobic or any of that. It’s funny. If it’s mean, then chances are (100% in fact) that it’s not funny. That’s because meanness isn’t really humorous. It’s shocking, which is an ELEMENT of good humor, but that’s just one element. Funny things have to be relatable and there’s nothing relatable about dancing around the corpse of someone you don’t know because you’re suddenly morally superior because they wound up dead. That’s what Pat Robertson and Osama Bin Laden and other ideological zealots do. And there’s NOTHING less funny than ideological zealotry.
Now, to get back to Norway, the GLEE with which leftist types are reporting that this nut that blew all this shit up and shot all those people was a fundamentalist Christian, right wing conservative honky is a little bit shitty too. “Here’s the new face of terror, Republicans! It’s YOU!!!!!” The left seems pretty stoked on that. I think it’s fucked up. I mean, sure, yeah. The dude’s a white Christian but SO WHAT? He’s also a mass murderer and those dudes are pretty much ALWAYS white Christians. Isn’t John Wayne Gacy a terrorist, or the Son of Sam?, Dahmer, Bundy, Gein, David Berkowitz (what do you mean he’s jewish?), Dick Ramirez (Mexican? Really?) these dudes terrorized the shit out of people, and just because they’re only tangentially tied to any sort of ideological agenda doesn’t mean that they’re not exactly the same as this dude in Norway or Osama. Shit man, those two guys are only tangentially tied to their purported larger agendas, as no matter what the very vocal and visible zealots and/or opposition may have you believe, neither Islam nor Christianity promotes mass murder.
The notion that this is some kind of blow for ANYTHING (moderate Islam, those opposed to the ongoing wars, anti-racial profiling folks, people who generally hate republicans) is completely fucking asinine. It’s just a bunch of dead people and twisted girders and a huge fucking mess and that shit is never a blow FOR anything, much in the same way that meanness is never funny. It’s a bunch of dead people, a terrible mess to clean up and a metric dickton of bullshit left behind, and assholes going on about how retroactively, they were right and everyone else was wrong and so on and so forth. Nice. It’s real nice. It’s like a complete vulture culture of smug Dr. Drews just vampirically using tragedy to further agendas.
And that shit’s just dark people.
RIP all around.