Do like Elvis did
It will scramble up your head and drag your brain about,
Sometimes you gotta do like Elvis did and shoot the damn thing out. - Bob Dylan
I haven't been watching much television recently, but a couple of weeks ago we had digital cable installed. Now that we receive FoxNews and MSNBC, I know what American's are talking about when they talk about Aruba.
There needn't be a media conspiracy here, not beyond the ones we already know, to account for the obsessive-compulsive coverage of this Summer's showcase disappearances. While the Bush White House appears to jump the shark - it's falling in the ratings, but who's going to step up and cancel it? - sympathetic executives naturally counterprogram. The networks, staffed by intelligence assets and owned by oligarchs and arms peddlers, run instead homespun mysteries to consume the attention and care of the citizen-audience.
(Though sometimes, such stories may serve even as distractions from themselves. I recall tuning out as much as possible during the saturation coverage of the JonBenet Ramsey investigation. The story, I thought, had no great significance beyond its own tragedy, and the morbidity of the coverage left me only depressed and uninformed. I just didn't want to hear it. Now, from this station down the rabbit hole, I wonder whether I didn't hear enough. Or perhaps, hear it correctly.)
I found this consideration of the Mystery of the Missing Persons Coverage interesting; that "the most effective kinds of distraction or sublimation are those that echo or harmonize with the concerns they seek to distract us from."
People are disappearing, and not just in Aruba. They're being lifted right off their American feet and bundled off to Homeland gulags. Constitutionality isn't what it used to be, and what it used to be isn't what it presumed to be. Common sense is absent, mass demonstrations go unreported, and invisible ballots go missing. So maybe it's perfectly understandable why Americans should be trained to transfer their anxieties to Natalee Holloway or Olivia Newton John's boyfriend. There, their worries will be rewarded with neither demands nor expectations placed upon them. Unlike their political and even parapolitical concerns, which threaten to call people out of their armchairs, even if their worries haven't sharpened beyond a vague sense of dread.
What to do? Like Elvis, you can shoot out the television, but America has left the building. Left behind is an America-shaped void that a lot of people still want to call home, because it plays one on TV.