Patriotism and Mass Media

1.) Remember where you were when you found out that Osama bin Laden had been killed? Most likely. I, myself, had just emerged from my bedroom and it proceeded the usual “good morning” I could routinely expect. On my own terms, words such as “good riddance” and “that takes care of that problem” were the first to pop up in my own mind. But when footage from a game with the Phillies facing off against the Mets surfaced, with attendants chanting “U.S.A.” upon learning about his demise, I got a little queasy.

By no means did I consider bin Laden to be the soul that deserved to be missed, to be cried for or even be given a respectful burial so that those close to him could properly mourn. He made his choices. The guy was – for the lack of a better term – a dick. But in repeating those three little letters, I couldn’t help but think that all those who contributed to the ballpark battle cry were actually making people like bin Laden feel as though they’ve accomplished something. bin Laden believed in a world in which he could make a statement through excessive force and the misfortune of others…and now we did too.

Celebration constitutes the reward of our own achievements, not the setbacks of others. It can be argued that cheers heard over the world, including this particular one, were enthusiastic about the people he could no longer bring harm to. But we all know deep down that when it came to many and most, it was all about settling the score. Here our society was, making a synchronized trip back to Medieval times in which onlookers would “ooh” and “aah” at public executions. The funny thing is, I can’t help but envision the people of today being squeamish if such a display of persecution were implemented again.

Then there’s the “U.S.A.”. What portion of this life-changing event was celebrated for this terrorist’s removal from society and what portion was celebrated for the fact that it was “our country” that did it? This was a man who had torn families apart, made people question the point of going on without their loved ones and the first thing on people’s minds was “we got to him first” as if they were betting at the track. That’s another thing: “we”. I’ve applied it to sporting events and I’ll apply it here. There is no “we”. There is merely a small group who actually acted and those who sat idly by, then use their own race, gender or place of habitat to somehow affiliate themselves to this matter.

2.) In September, Ray Rice had the spotlight. In August, Robin Williams was all anyone talked about.  It would seem as though only one topic could garner America’s attention during an allotted period of time. Mildly interesting as these stories may have been, they would eventually consume all that which made up people’s lives. Truth be told, I do believe that there are certain stories which people should give their undivided attention to and keep themselves informed. However, those mentioned above do not represent the ideal coverage of which people should be vigilant.

Not only was the Ray Rice incident irrelevant in terms of our country’s structural integrity, but it was dated, a matter which had unfolded seven months prior and was regurgitated for the sake of having something to talk about. True, domestic abuse is nothing to overlook. But rather than using the occurrence to bring awareness to this problem for many other people, twitter users and Facebook status updaters only seemed interested in having all of the contempt come crashing down on one man. As for Robin Williams, while I understand the intention of paying tribute to a person who brought joy and laughter to so many people, there comes a time when the subject becomes overkill. Even more sickening was how much attention a run-of-the-mill McDonald’s received after an employee drew a swastika in butter on the inside of a patron’s sandwich. I’ll have you know a disgruntled customer handed the same symbol to a co-worker of mine on a manic Christmas Eve shift…and nothing came of it.

With these petty areas of interest being the center of attention for such prolonged lapses, one has to wonder how much else our fellow men aren’t aware of. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a minimum of a hundred students, here at Kutztown, who are unaware of the whereabouts regarding ISIS. It may very well sound like a joke, but a routine segment on Jay Leno’s rendition of the Tonight Show consisted of him interviewing strangers and asking seemingly basic questions concentrated on current events, with all of them delivering preposterous answers.

These small, singular events are essentially the news equivalent to an infant’s set of toy keys: simplistic, uninspiring and left with very little to develop. Call me crazy but I’m a big boy who wants to move on to the action figures.

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