Letters of Mass Construction

Are We Not Entertained

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Watched Joaquin Phoenix’s I’m Still Here today. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie it was Mr. Phoenix’s strange attempt at a fake documentary. A documentary which shows Joaquin blow up his career and have his life spiral out of control. Many people suspected a hoax when he first started but the longer he went the more people began to wonder if you were watching a man’s life blow up.

I can’t say I liked the movie. It spent way to much time on showing Mr. Phoenix spiral out of control. If I had been in charge I would have made a different movie because there was something inside this fake documentary which completely caught my attention and left me saddened. Mr. Phoenix showed a lot of clips of people making fun of him. People who seemed to be rooting for his downfall. Segments of other celebrities mocking him. It was an incredible display of the culture of meanness.

People didn’t know if he was faking or not. It didn’t stop them from piling on. I mean seriously, his so called colleagues went out of their way to hammer him. What is it about our world that makes people think it is okay to be mean. To kick someone when they are down. To actively root for failure. It isn’t just celebrities either. This culture of meanness is everywhere, our school yards, where we work, the internet, walking down the street. You can’t escape it.

I have been thinking a lot about random acts of meanness even before I watched the movie today. I read a blog earlier this week written by someone who I respect a lot. She was sitting on a subway train when some jackass walked up to her and dropped a picture he had drawn in her lap. It was titled the Low Self Esteem Girl and it was filled with nasty (go read Beth’s blog here. You won’t believe it).

This guy didn’t know her. He just wanted to deliver a paper full of hate and flee like the fucking coward he was. I am not naive our world has always been like this. What I want to know is, when are we going to say enough? I know with all of my heart that there are millions of talented, wonderful, nice people out there who feed this machine of meanness without really thinking about what they are doing.

People watch the train wrecks of other people’s lives and giggle. They root against Britney Spears, or Lindsey Lohan, or Joaquin Phoenix. They giggle as the culture of mean piles it on. They are unable to look away as the media displays the destruction of people’s lives. We say to ourselves it is okay because it’s just for entertainment. They justify themselves with bizarre rationalizations of, “they deserve it because they are celebrities”.

It isn’t just celebrities. Just ask Beth who was sitting on a subway train minding her own business. Or the kid on the playground accosted by bullies. Or the high school student who doesn’t fit in. It’s time to say enough. You want to make a New Year’s Resolution. Try this one on for size. Let’s all go out and do something nice everyday. Turn the channel on the TV set when some trashy celebrity gossip story comes on. Stand up for those who are being bullied. Be kind. Speak out against the culture of mean because if we don’t we will never get off this hamster wheel. It won’t be easy but nothing worth doing ever is.

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Art by Dave McKean

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4 Responses to “Are We Not Entertained”

  1. Sari says:

    >So true. I was brought up to be kind and polite to everyone and I will never understand mean people. It makes my heart hurt.

  2. Christopher says:

    >It has always been bad but it saddens me that it has become such an acceptable part of our culture.

  3. >Early in 2010 I had to give up watching politics (try that living in DC) and reading it as well. The mean girls, Sarah, O'Donnell from Deleware – you know the ones. Then I gave up all TV with celebrity trash and websites of same (perez) I was so disappointed in myself when I realized it was more difficult than I thought and was watching/reading more of this garbage than I thought. But it all ended and I am happy to say I no longer want to see this stuff. I also realized that it has made me even more sensitive to this behavior when I do see it. So maybe that is some of the answer. Everyone is so desensitized to this from seeing it all the time.We have become mean, spitful and inflexible and America as a whole is a big ole bully.

  4. >I agree, it seems like everyone likes to see people fail, or spiral out of control. It's like this society can't stand to see people be happy and stable, it's better if they are a "mess". It's very sad. I know people like this in my life…they are happy when I fail and when I am doing well, they don't pay me much notice. It's strange. I feel like that is why Michael Jackson started to be so destructive to himself, all of the world was against him and so he medicated and it was unfortunate the outcome.I truly believe we as a society aided in destruction. Anyway, celebrities are people too! Thank you for this post and your insights. 🙂

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