Lets get one thing straight. The box office bonanza of THE AVENGERS should be no surprise. We’re a nation of avengers. Revenge is hardwired into the human psyche. Especially in the case of Americans who have traditionally seen themselves as conquerors of all that is wrong in their way. The wild frontier, the wild red man, the wild Nazis, and now the wild terrorists.
Maybe our national sense of rage has been heightened by the hottest first quarter in our history. Every state was 8.6 degrees above normal. Could abnormal weather affect abnormal behaviors? Say like the newest New York game “subway chicken” [track jumping teens waiting as long as possible to get off]. Or the spike in porn site hits on the Web [4.4 billion per month, triple CNN or ESPN]. Or the rage of Super PAC political ads [70% negative so far in contrast to 9% at this point in 2008].
While the experts test the data, the data itself keeps piling up. Like the Wisconsin man last month who jumped in front of his wife’s Dodge Durango to block her from the polls where she was going to vote for the Recall of Republican Governor Walker [the man’s brother defended the action: “Crazy liberal nuts like his wife are always pulling this crap!]
Anthropologists identify us as “the higher animals,” and yet there are few “lower animals” who will kill
another for what we call avenging-a-wrong. They kill for food and survival; we often kill for power and glory. The difference is the beasts of the field stop when it’s over. We sit down and write histories.
Because histories are written by the winners [AKA, the avengers], we dutifully learn the bad guys from the good guys. A powerful patriotic lesson about who to jeer and who to cheer. Bad guys like Hitler and Qaddafi are easy. Others are not that simple. Consider some examples: Henry VIII, Napoleon, FDR, Bush. Too iffy? OK, what about closer to home: Daley, Obama, Ossie Guillen, your mother-in-law?
Here’s an idea. Instead of putting on your mask and avenging all the bad guys out there, first try checking who wrote those histories. Then try following-the-facts. Which usually means following-the-money….
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