Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'


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Jon Lackman attempts to make the argument on Slate that Rush Limbaugh and Frank Rich calling the current political rigmarole “Kabuki theatre” is a vain attempt by them to denigrate it by associating it with something foreign.


The point those commentators are attempting to make by calling parliamentary tricks “Kabuki” is that it’s a highly ritualized form of theatre.

For example, we’re about to go through another turn in the bender for a Supreme Court nomination. This will involve Republicans – themselves gross caricatures of otherwise legitimately perceived grievances or political philosophies – making some very predictable, if outlandish, acts in order to block whatever nominee the White House chooses. The nominee the White House chooses will be, in turn, pointedly scrubbed by Democrats of any history that might be considered “radical,” a term that will ultimately be defined not by social convention but by professional propagandists on the airwaves, for which there will be a lot of manufactured Sturm und Drang.

That’s a highly ritualized form of political theatre, marked by its outlandish performances. “Kabuki” is not far off the mark. Where Limbaugh and Rich leave themselves open for criticism, however, is not that they’re being racist, but that they’re being big flaming hypocrites, for outlandish, ritualized theatre is exactly what they’re peddling.


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Ahh, our post-racial world.

You’ll notice that photos as shocking as have been published on the Boston Globe and the New York Times concerning Haiti would not nor could have been published about Sept 11th, 2001. Showing open piles of corpses and people shot in the head by police on the major media as if it’s an anthropological study or a documentary – including watching a girl die on live TV – is sickening, and evidence that in a fundamental way the people of Haiti are viewed with a sense of disdain by the American press. Like they’re less than people.

It’s not unlike how Black victims were depicted during Hurricane Katrina. And it didn’t even take a day for the loonies to come out and be given plenty of air time to blame the victims – as they have for Katrina and 9/11 (sinful, lascivious Blacks and sinful, lascivious gays, respectively). Idiot opinions and gory videos have always been around – from Vietnam to Beirut to Tehran – but this isn’t a war and the visuals then were either first-hand or objective and respectful (with notable exceptions) as journalists could not pick sides.

There’s a difference between showing butchery in a conflict as to document the insanity of war or the moral bankruptcy of the aggressor and showing a morbid desire to see suffering without just cause. As if the blood itself is what makes it good journalism, reducing message to mere spectacle.

I wonder, at this point, how all the mainstream media gets their personnel down there to decide the narrative when we can’t even seem to ship more than eight thousand meals a day for two million victims.

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