I’m not one to watch a fine bit of irony walk by without commenting on it. But today was especially noteworthy because two very ironic moments slipped right past each other on their way to see if anyone cared about them.
The first irony comes courtesy of the Flavour of the Month in Hollywood Fools, the Hogans. According to breathless talking heads on every second TV channel, Linda Hogan (the Hulk’s wife) is dating a 19 year old teen while she is 48 years old. The airways are buzzing with outrage at the audacity of the woman to date someone 29 years her junior. TV psychologists are shaking their heads and clucking their tongues in outrage as they pass judgement on this sad state of world affairs, using comments like, “it behoves her as an adult to put an end to that relationship before it began” and “it is so inappropriate”.
I find it a tad ironic that a nation in which men as young as 17 years can join the military and be sent on combat patrol in dangerous areas of an active ground war (Iraq, Afghanistan) are not considered mature enough to decide who they want to cavort with. They are considered man enough to live with the constant fear of violent death or injury every day for months on end, put in charge of battle tanks and high tech weaponry, and sent across the world at the behest of the government to risk their lives for American interests. But somehow, they are not man enough to date a woman of their choice.
This reminds me of the mini-series about Homer’s Odyssey which ran on the major US networks about three years ago. In the final two-hour episode, Homer passes by an island inhabited entirely by beautiful women and stops to check it out. There, walking along the beach of this island paradise was the head priestess of the women, the former Miss America, Vanessa Williams, dressed only in a short, diaphanous skirt. The odd thing was that she was walking along with her hands covering her naked breasts. In fact she spent the entire scene with her hands demurely covering her large breasts.
Less than an hour later in this same episode, Homer discovers a group of men in his home who have spent two years trying to convince his wife that he was dead and that she should marry one of them. Homer is annoyed and dispatches these unscrupulous suitors by using a long spear to impale five of them onto the wall. At this point, the viewer is treated to lingering screams of pain, a flurry of legs kicking wildly five feet off the floor, and gallons of blood running down the wall.
The lesson from an American interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey? Naked breasts on a beautiful woman are bad but explicit violence and bloodshed is OK.
Which brings me to the second bit of irony. Legions of people are outraged at a video posted on YouTube allegedly showing a US marine holding aloft a cute little puppy before tossing it nonchalantly over a cliff. The marine in question has been dismissed amidst calls for his head.
Now throwing an animal of a cliff to its death is a horrendous act, regardless of why it is done. And the marine should be punished for his careless act of violence. But all you people out there who are howling in outrage at this video, have you not seen any of the other videos freely available on YouTube?
I’m referring specifically to the many, many videos which clearly show American forces killing people, not puppies. Whether it’s a grainy, ghostly green, night-vision video of people being machine-gunned from the air, or daylight videos of people on the street disappearing in a unexpected explosion from a tank shell, the end result is the same: sudden death of people who may or may not be engaged in war-like activities. What about those folks who are only going about their daily activities and are mistakenly targeted? Where is your outrage for those people?
So to recap this litany of ironies: seeing naked humans is bad, seeing humans being killed is OK. Killing puppies is bad, killing humans is OK. And sending young men into battle is OK as long as they refrain from having sex with people we don’t approve of.
The irony of it all would be amusing to contemplate if it were not for the fact it’s such a damning indictment of how badly screwed up our societal values have become.