Nobel Committee gives gift to our shallow culture
As many movement conservatives enjoy expressing outrage more than they enjoy sex, eating or the company of friends and loved ones, and as the entire conservative media is devoted to expressing ever-escalating outrage and grievance in the face of this liberal-biased country– you know, the country where they controlled all three branches of government a couple years ago?– the Nobel committee’s silly, indefensible decision to give Barack Obama the Peace prize is a great boon to those self-same conservatives. Is it any different, though, for any of us? Roman Polanski, ACORN, Michael Jackson and McKenzie Phillips are largely meaningless distractions, as well. But then, that’s our culture. That’s MY culture. No one is above the outrage cycle. We have now, in our culture, synthesized the two worst elements of pre-9/11 and post-9/11 media: the pre-9/11 obsession with meaningless bullshit; and the post-9/11 obsession with filling every story with apocalyptic portent and over the top, tween-girl-at-a-Jonas-brothers-concert hysteria.
We still care too much about J-Lo’s dress and the Summer of the Shark. Now, we get around the idea that we are shallow for giving a shit about such things by infusing them with pseudo-political importance and our current national drug of choice, outrage. Everything is an outrage. Everyone is outraged. Every turn of the news cycle gives us a new opportunity to pound the table. Every item that crawls across the newsfeed at the bottom of our screens is an excuse to stab one’s finger into one’s chest and declaim, solemnly and with vast consequence, “I, for one, am sickened.” This is how a shallow culture convinces itself that it is deep. This is how a child’s culture convinces itself that it is adult. Every new twist requires the expression of acute emotional energy, and every expression reinforces that whatever we are, we are a deep, responsible people. 9/11 didn’t stop us from caring about the stupid nonsense. It didn’t turn our attention from little contrived controversies to major historical events. It just inspired us to elevate those contrived controversies to the level of history. The other two options were beyond the pale: give up on caring about bullshit, or admit that this is a shallow culture. Neither could be countenanced. Instead, we’ve chosen to live in a world where the next outrage is just moments away, and where the vast import of everything our minds light upon ensures that whatever else we are, we are all of us Very Important People.