Suffering: The new escapism?
BBC America’s ‘Dramaville’ brings warmed-over helpings of British television to US shores for those who haven’t caught it on the Internet already, and Ripper Street is reheated Ripper, so it seems like a reasonable combination. The crime drama opens in Whitechapel six months after the infamous Ripper murders, when everyone was still on edge after the brutality of 1888, and many wondered if the Ripper had truly gone, or simply taken a break…
This bright idea is far more potentially dangerous than banning shampoo in carry-on bags.
The GOP is proposing a great idea nowadays: Let’s give teachers and school administrators classroom guns! In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown Connecticut last week, GOP leaders are announcing plans to introduce legislation in Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Tennessee to arm school personnel.
Are we certain – or uncertain – in our conviction that these are all isolated incidents? Arrogant or afraid?
So, where will next week’s public shooting(s) happen, America?
Or should I be asking about tomorrow? This afternoon perhaps? What precisely is going on these days?
I spent several hours yesterday looking for a timeline that includes every attack we’ve seen since mid-July. I couldn’t find one. I can’t figure out why. Are we certain – or uncertain – in our conviction that these are all isolated incidents? Arrogant or afraid?
Taking away the material means of justice while proclaiming one’s government to be tough on crime is an exercise in rhetoric that’s worse than empty.
Sometimes, living in a relatively safe country like Australia, one becomes complacent in expecting one’s government to be out to, you know, do justly by its citizens. (If not its non-citizens; hi, asylum seeker debate!) In March, something rather unexpected happened in the north-eastern state of Queensland, and that illusion of justice could no longer stand.
It was in March that the Labor Party, led by Anna Bligh, who had been rather popular, was defeated by the Liberal National Party, led by Campbell Newman. It wasn’t just a victory, it was a landslide of almost unprecedented proportions, with the LNP gaining the largest majority of parliament seats ever seen in Queensland. The rest of the country was vaguely confused, but we moved on.
It was evident that a crisis was underway in Anaheim, and one that had been created by those in power.
Southern California in July can be suffocatingly hot, the kind of intense heat that drives you indoors for much of the day and leaves tempers simmering at a low boil, waiting for a reason to bubble over. Frustrations are high in communities across the southern half of the state thanks to the relentless heat and ongoing economic woes; Orange County, for example, has an unemployment rate of almost 8% and a foreclosure rate hovering around 2%. The traditionally conservative county has some of the most dramatic economic inequality imaginable on display, from the mansions of the wealthy to the crowded tenements of the poor who serve them.
Walt has been fundamentally changed by his involvement in the meth industry and there’s no going back now.
Despite AMC’s rivalry with Dish Network, Breaking Bad netted a record number of viewers for its hotly-anticipated season five premiere. This final season of the hit drama will contain two eight episode sections, and there’s a great deal to pack into these 16 episodes if the creators intend to wrap up the story. It’s unlikely creator Vince Gilligan will leave everything neatly packaged in a bow, though, because so much of Breaking Bad is about subtlety and ambiguity.
For those who want a little more from their television, there’s something profoundly lacking in the US procedural.
Masterpiece Mystery is airing the latest series of Lewis over the month of July, something which has me tickled pink, because I adore UK police procedurals. Meanwhile, US crime shows continue to leave me cold; I know we’ve got a whole slew of them returning in the fall, and I just can’t be bothered to care all that much. Producers and creative teams in both nations approach procedurals radically differently, and I find the UK version much more to my taste.
Maybe the biggest cruelty of all is that, in spite of King’s very public suffering, the things that happened to him continue every day in the United States.
I was just eleven years old in 1991, when LAPD officers beat Rodney King within inches of his life on camera. Here’s how omnipresent that beating, not-guilty verdict and subsequent riots have been to the cultural and political imaginary of my generation: I can’t remember whether or not the question, “Can we all just along?” was a cliché before or after King uttered it in his bewildered response to the violence in Los Angeles. I started paying attention to politics and the news for the first time that year, and I remember only two things that figured prominently: the Clinton election and Rodney King.
Like The Wire, The Killing hints at the ways in which privilege and power so often determine who gets punished for any given crime and who goes free.
“Hey, we caught the bad guy,” Detective Stephen Holder (Joel Linnaman) tells his partner, Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos), in Sunday’s Season 2 finale of The Killing. She’s just exited the car, presumably to leave the police force or at least opt out of the next case.
“Yeah?” She says, “Who’s that?”
They have finally solved the murder of teenager Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay), but it doesn’t exactly feel as satisfying as they’d hoped. Linden expected it to bring closure, but it leaves her cold.
It would be nice to think that Trayvon Martin’s death is something that has never happened before and could never happen again. Unfortunately, that’s just not true when it comes to being black and male in America.
Trayvon Martin‘s death is on tape. Anyone with a decent internet connection and a strong stomach can listen to his final moments. They’re heartbreaking. It would be nice to think that this was an isolated incident, that Trayvon’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman is something that has never happened before and could never happen again. Unfortunately, that’s just not true when it comes to being black and male in America.
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