DISPATCHES
The World Turned Upside Down
by Rob Schultheis
Jan 19, 2012 | 966 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s that time again: to surf the polluted waters of 21st century pop culture searching for signs and portents of impending doom and drag them up on the beach for closer examination. (Warning: hold your schnoz, and mouth-breathe through a shmata soaked in patchouli oil or essence of ambergris and roses.)

Video games: OMG, it’s the eighth rider of the Apocalypse, astride a 600-pound razorback hog wielding an imaginary Wii-sword and lip-synching the theme song of “Gilligan’s Island.”

Have you seen that odious advertisement built around one of the biggest Big Lies ever told: “There’s a little bit of soldier in all of us?” The ad is flogging a shoot-’em-up “combat” video game via footage of actors creeping through the ruins of a modern city, dodging bullets and RPGs and blazing away at off-screen enemies. There’s the gnarly veteran soldier, totally at home on the battlefield, and there’s his doofus side-kick, the clichéd “newbie” who watches in awe as the old master effortlessly vanquishes the foe and, by ad’s end, has become the same kind of stone cold killer.

The doofus, I assume, is a stand-in for your archetypal video gamer, a 300-pound couch potato who at age 25 lives in his mother’s basement, works three nights a week as a pizza delivery man, and tries to hit on women at bus stops by telling them that he was the leader of the SEAL team that killed bin Laden and the terrorists have vowed to assassinate him, so he has been ordered by President Obama himself to go undercover and gain so much weight that no-one can recognize him….

All well and good, I suppose, but in a world in which real members of our military are being killed almost daily by the surrogates of a so-called ally that our demented policymakers continue to pay billions of dollars to, and in which the survivors come home only to find their medical claims denied and their sacrifices ignored by the public and the swinish politicians inside the Beltway, it seems the height of bad taste and delusion to try and sell the idea that “there’s a little bit of soldier in all of us.” 

Because no, there isn’t. 

The brain-dead jackasses who waste their lives playing Rambo on their mommy’s flat screen TV have nothing at all, nada, zero, zip, in common with those who actually go to war and risk their lives on behalf of lesser men and their bankrupt policies and adolescent lifestyles. Try going to a real war, where nasty things happen to good people…. 

Then there was the crop of luxury car ads that ran this holiday season.

Every year now, in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, TV viewers are brainwashed into thinking that if they really, truly love their husband or wife, only a new car or an expensive piece of jewelry will fill the bill; anything else, presumably, stamps the gift-giver as a two-timer, an adulterer, a polygamous fiend or, worse, a low-life bum, the American equivalent of a Harijan or Untouchable. Open on a hip-looking young couple preparing to exit their big bucks apartment building.  They are unmistakably members of the oligarchy, born with silver spoons up their…oh, never mind, I get possessed by the spirit of Lewis Black whenever I write about this stuff.  She has the kind of glamour money imbues a person with; he looks like an actor, a model, or a waiter, as in waiting to be “discovered,” with one of those Don Johnson stubble mugs that says, “I don’t have to shave; my father owns the company.” They leer at each other as they ride the elevator down to the lobby; they look like they are either about to jump each other’s bones, or do something involving heaps of crisp new benjamins.  Sho’nuff, they walk outside, and there, parked against the curb, is her Christmas gift to him: a shiny new if-you-have-to-ask-the-price-you-can’t-afford-it car; Cutie has paid someone to tie a giant ribbon around it, with a bow on top. How perfect!

“Geld macht sinnlich,” as they say in the Old Country.

If I were shooting the ad, I would have them boot aside a homeless tramp with a shopping cart, climb in the backseat of the car, tear their clothes off and indulge in a wild bonk-a-thon on the genuine leather seats to celebrate the holiday season, but hey, yo, what do I know? She went to the local luxury car dealer, he went to Jared’s, and they both lived happily forever after, or at least until the rising waters of the north Atlantic swallowed up the island of Manhattan and everything on it, and  mutant octopi the size of SUVs rummaged through the apartments of Park Avenue terrorizing the codfish and flounders who lived there.
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