Saturday, August 2, 2014

Preserving A Way Of Life

Reality TV, and by that I mean “all” TV, are the new soaps.

I come to this conclusion via the narrative structures of gun owners when prompted to imagine a scenario by which they (legitimately?) take the life of another person. The story they concoct says SO much about not only who they are, but who they see themselves as being. Read that twice – I had to.

My sample base is small (p < 10) but some curious patterns emerge. First is the establishing scene – the activity they see themselves engaged in just prior to murdering someone is really, really telling. With one exception, everyone is enjoying some form of leisure “Well, I'm sitting at home watching TV....”

This is my first trigger phrase. I make a point to interrupt the thought process and ask: “What time is it?”

I'm not a detective, but I've watched enough YouTube interrogation videos to note that one tactic is to focus on unrelated specifics - “What color was the sky?” “Was it raining that day?” Then they go back a couple hours later: “Ok, so earlier you said it was mid day when this occurred, but now it sounds like its more in the afternoon when it was raining, is that correct?” The suspect shifts nervously.

Back-lit male silhouettes are always threatening.
I already know where they're heading: night, because, well, that's what TV and movies said. “What time?”

“Late.”

Always late.

Then the script gets more complicated. “I've got to protect my family.”

Notice this: when prompted for a specific within their constructed murder fantasy, they switch the focus of the narrative from “defending myself” to “protecting others” and I just cannot let that go. What is going on that causes that change? Why does prompting for increased fictional detail correlate with this??

I think it has something to do with setting oneself up as not only capable of but obliged to commit acts of nobility, or at least have your acts defined as noble. “I'm a good person!” goes the insulating koan.

The Inherent Value Proposition.

Appeals to the Second Amendment are cloaked appeals to divinity – it's a way the ego believes its convictions are perfectly rational.

The DVD collection (there's always shelves of them collecting dust – another dense psychology deserving of its own chapter) tends to over-represent a particular genre with certain thematic elements (the reluctant, noble, last resort use of horrific violence to restore an understandable order of things... at any cost.)

So, “daytime TV', by which I mean almost all television, as almost all of its been sanitized down to a pornographic representation of the mundane, is predicated on preserving (by way of claiming to celebrate) a particular set of social circumstances, i.e., the way they know things to be right now.

But that's just part of the fantasy. It's not just that the world will continue in a way that is perfectly understandable to them, but even more important – that their inherent value is so great their most tedious, secular activities (the preparing of food, for instance) are deserving of cultural elevation if not outright reward. Hence, the Facebook post: “I made dinner for the whole family!”

Check your voicemail – Chef Ramsey might have called.

0 comments: