340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to... catharsis?

I'm a sucker for good vitriol. There's nothing quite like an eloquently filthy rant, a savage indictment of some deserving jagoff. Hearing someone with a good grasp of language tear a strip off some jackass tickles me, especially when it's in service of a larger political point. That's part of Twisty's charm (though there are many other parts): she is to rants what a wheat thresher is to lawnmowers; she goes for the jugular and doesn't stop 'til she hits the spinal column. Steenblogen's another brilliant ranter, with a crisp, casual clarity that I can't seem to muster even on my third draft.

For today at least, these two are joined in their venomous Valhalla by Shannon Rupp, a regular contributor to both the Ottawa Citizen and the Tyee. In her essay, Rupp rips into Brat Camp, the televised Long March for "delinquents" currently being aired on the ABC network. An excerpt:

Sure, I can see the parents' point of view: Brat Camp looked like a godsend. Not only were they relieved of responsibility for children who (quite rationally) despise them, the kids will be returned all shiny and new. They've finally found a way to outsource parenting. In exchange, all they have to do is address the camera and claim they love their children.

But even the most self-involved 'rents ought to realize there's something wrong with any so-called therapy that strips wounded children of fundamental rights.

I haven't watched the show yet but after reading Rupp's piece, I'm tempted to. Whenever I come across a particularly delicious rant, I like to take a look at the subject for myself, just to get a first-hand taste of the truly loathsome--and Brat Camp definitely seems to fall into that category. Unlike reality-TV mainstays Survivor and The Amazing Race, Brat Camp (along with The Swan) falls into a whole other category of show that deliberately, maliciously profits from the suffering of people who're already fighting a Sysiphean skirmish with circumstance:

"Hey, chickie--you're not pretty enough. You're not, you know. You're not thin enough and you're not pretty enough. Your tits droop. Your tits are small. You're not hot enough to attract anyone, let alone keep them. You're not thin enough. You're not thin enough. Your knees are knobby. Your ass is bony. You're not pretty enough. You have a weak chin and invisible cheekbones. Your hair doesn't shimmer like an action-movie slow-motion shot of gasoline catching fire. You're not pretty enough. You're too short. You're not thin enough. Your teeth are crooked. You're not pretty enough.

"Wait, you say you're depressed about your appearance? How can this be? You live in the most prosperous country in the world, where all earthly delights can be had! Obviously this is an unexplainable defect in your character which we will fix by carving you up like a Christmas ham."

The Swan is a vindictive, brutal, hateful exercise in character-erosion akin to the second step in any indoctrination: after corroding the self, rebuild it to suit your needs.

Fear Factor is regularly lambasted for its crassness, but look at the contestants on that show: young, buff, beautiful, predominantly white (unless they're sexily ethnic) and middle-class. Entitled. Privileged. Everything the contestants on The Swan (and to return to my original point) Brat Camp aren't.


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