Monday, January 11, 2016

Blooper Scooper


Having gotten precisely nowhere in their laughable attempt to turn the Washington Redskins' name into the great moral issue of our time, it only makes sense that our heroes would now set their sights on an even more unrealistic target. Sense, that is, because as always with these kinds of crusades, the important thing is to be seen crusading, not to actually set achievable goals. The more quixotic the quest, the less likely you'll ever be short of opportunities to flaunt your moral superiority.

Anyway. Question: what did Orwell and Hitler have in common? Answer: they both understood, in contrast to simpletons like Dave Bry, that many human beings desire much more from life than ease, security and avoidance of pain. Some of them positively lust after struggle and danger. Bry acknowledges this, but says that "we should be more honest about how ugly and shameful our bloodlust is" even as he admits (in the same sentence) that it is also "natural" and "inherent to the human condition", which, of course, has proven to be such a psychologically healthy tension to maintain; just ask a random Catholic. William James had the right idea, even if his details seem a bit outdated; I'd say spectator sports like football are close enough to his moral equivalent to war.

This part is just plain funny:

[W]e should try to channel our need for catharsis in this regard into forms of entertainment that don’t leave real broken bodies their wake. Violent movies, I would argue, are far more easily defensible on moral grounds, as are gangsta rap and first-person shooter video games.

This is why opponents of this sort of weepy, whiny do-gooderism feel intensely frustrated, like they're fighting a guerrilla war. They're constantly having to take aim at moving targets. You'll never find one person who flat-out wants to abolish everything harmful, or even potentially harmful. But the cumulative tendency in our hypersensitive Nerf age is definitely oriented toward the goal of a world with no pain, tragedy, rough edges or sharp points. For every Dave Bry who is magnanimously inclined to let us enjoy our violent movies and video games, there's an Anita Sarkeesian who is doing everything in her power to stamp those out too. For whatever she's willing to overlook, there's a crusading Christian who wants to purify pop culture for the Lord. And so on. Well, as long as we're comparing dictators to dimbulbs, here's something Stalin was shrewd enough to understand: when confronted by a remorseless enemy who wants to destroy all you hold dear, you just have to hold firm and say "Not one step back!"