Sunday, December 8, 2013

The King's Dead (Again) – Let's All Weep Together

It’s come to my attention recently that a multitude of John F. Kennedy documentaries, novels, memorabilia, parades, and other celebratory occasions are sweeping the nation in recognition of the 50th “anniversary” of his assassination at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald, or of some other unidentified, clearly conservative-leaning person if you are to get your facts from Hugo Chavez-scholar Oliver Stone or the hordes of conspiracy theorists who are strategically timing the releases of their own accounts detailing Kennedy’s tragic demise.  My memory of Kennedy’s life and office probably differs dramatically from most other Americans’, particularly in that I don’t have a memory and care not to get one respecting the president who’s famous mainly for acting like a philanderer, romanticizing about outer space, looking like a sexy movie star (as opposed to Reagan, who really had been a sexy movie star and a big leftist in his youth before seeing the light, or Schwarzenneger, who really had been a… well, he was brawny to his credit), and getting killed.  This is not to insinuate that I regard him among the worst of this great country’s chief executives, but to illustrate the reasons for my interest in this wave of “assassination celebrations”; only the most current and outstanding manifestation of a long-running, popular trend, the hype over JFK’s decades-past departure is most intriguing not for any resounding strength or defect in the man’s individual character but for what it reveals about the American people’s psyche and their vain obsession with commemorating or correcting the curses imposed on their earthly condition.

As stated previously, the so-called wealthiest nation in the world (that paradoxically happens to be the brokest nation in human history) is no stranger to bemoaning its staggering poverty.  Aside from hawking the liberal deity John F. Kennedy’s death whenever the ones digit in the date aligns with 3, Americans also hold annual celebrations or “awareness-raising” parties for

* 9/11, in which we all convene to commiserate and feel very horrorshow solemn together and “remember” some lesson or disaster or other important point that we subsequently cast out of our minds for the remainder of the year.
* Breast cancer, in which we dress up in pink as a fashion statement to flaunt how much more we care than everyone else.
* AIDS, in which we wear red ribbons to do basically the same thing.
* Labor – read “unemployment”.
* And a host of additional commemorative dates that will vary based on your political leanings and the Size Of Your Heart!

The one thing common to all of these events is that they accomplish absolutely nothing other than to make their participants feel mushy inside and proud of themselves – no tangible decline in illness or poverty, no significant revelations in science, no reforms in current government, veritably no advancement of the human condition whatsoever.  On the contrary, one could reasonably argue that the yearly hooplahs yield precisely the opposite effects of what their proponents contend for; where they seek to sow knowledge in the low-information masses, they foster only historical ignorance and confusion, and where they desire to attain progress in medicine or welfare, they cause immobility and stagnation for the research that makes such progress a reality.  The more time that ‘social activists’ squander in calling attention to a certain problem and, in so doing, diverting much attention onto their own arrogant selves, the less time they have in general to actually rectify those ills they profess to despise.

On one hand, the very idea of “remembering”, or of calling back to mind that which wasn’t there before, some person’s or group’s suffering in synchronization with a particular day of the year flagrantly contradicts its own supposed purpose, which is to ensure that said outrage happens “never again”.  The man who has truly absorbed the lessons of history must remember neither John F. Kennedy’s death nor the terrorist attacks, new and old, of 9/11, as those events are already deeply ingrained in his mind and have influenced his character and actions accordingly.  Politicians especially should not be given to remembering major historical occasions whenever their calendar deems it appropriate, but should instead remain forever vigilant to the future consequences of their policies, by keeping the successes and tragedies of the past always at the forefront of their considerations.  That society should stoop to dedicating a whole day or even week of the year for an impermanent history lesson is a telling indicator of those same politicians’ failure to instill in students a proper reverence for the lives and the contributions, good and evil, of their ancestors.

Equally pointless are efforts to “cure” disease or poverty simply by focusing the public’s eyes on either issue, a tactic that is most frequently observed in nationally televised sports and makes no sense for the following reasons: for one, such displays predictably revoke all enjoyment that a cancer-stricken woman might derive from the game as they constantly barrage her with memories of her failing condition, giving spectators and players alike an opportunity to share in a collective pessimism.  Secondly, the vast majority of people watching pink-clad football players on their couch have not the slightest useful understanding of the physical ailments these men are protesting and thus have no means of fixing them.  Finally, the mere act of wanting something doesn’t logically make or help it to be so – no matter the strength of one’s want.  I may yearn with all my nonviable cardiovascular tissue mass for a return to normalcy and constitutional government in the States, but that yearning will come to nothing unless (and probably even if) I translate it into action.  “Raising awareness” is the epitome of what some commentators aptly term symbolism over substance, a gesture that conveys an appearance of compassion and resolve while being utterly meaningless in reality and serving only to bolster the ego of those who extend it.  Everyone wants to bell the cat, but at the same time no one wants to try. All the rhetorical mouse’s plotting doubtless satiated his pathetic, walnut-sized brain’s craving for honor and praise within his community, but in the end it would liberate not a single rodent from the jaws of that predator placed over them by nature’s God.

The Kennedy assassination and all these other misery-celebrations have left me baffled as to the Who, What, and Why.  Is this event actually devoted to Kennedy himself or to those who have written and filmed so exhaustively about him?  Are we intended to salute the legacy of America’s sexiest president ever, or the impeccable headshot of Oswald that brought such legacy screeching to an early halt?  Would the media even care if another public official were assassinated, or are they just profiting from a good story that’s ripe for conspiratorial retellings?  What is the point of it all?  The most depressing thing about this whole fiasco is the realization that we’ll have to do it all over again with Abraham Lincoln in just two more years, accompanied with yet another obligatory slew of baseless Obama comparisons.  “Shoot me now!  Shoot me now!”

Postscript: See, I told you so.  The media are pulling this stunt all over again with the “1-year anniversary of the Newtown/Sandy Hook shooting”.  Let’s all join in our efforts to remind recovering families about the tragedy they endured a year ago, or maybe didn’t.


  1. Your viewpoints and arguements are complete rubbish. Anyone with half a brain could see through your pathetic refutations and transparent arguments. Your logic is completely backward and you can't seem to even find anything negative about the Liberal viewpoint. Great men like Kennedy, Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela deserve to be celebrated for their amazing contributions to America. For once, I would like to see you congratulate someone for their actions and deeds, rather than belittling them for their lesser mistakes.

  2. Your viewpoints and arguements (sic) are a bunch of malarkey. Anyone with half a brain could recognize the absurdity of your pathetic refutations and opaque comments. Your logic is completely - well, there isn't any - and you can't seem to even find anything positive about the Liberal viewpoint. Great men like Kennedy, Lincoln, and even an unapologetic terrorist Mandela deserve to be celebrated for their amazing contributions to America and the black rapist population of South Africa, which explains why we devotedly observe the days on which they died and ceased to make such contributions. Or maybe it doesn't. For once, I would like to see one of my commenters congratulate me for my actions/deeds and words, rather than belittling me for expressing absolute truths their feeble minds cannot understand.

    See, I can also play the "call my ideological opponents names without actually addressing any of their points" game.

  3. You openly mock both Breast Cancer awareness and AIDS awareness. You display a notable lack of respect for J. F. Kennedy, the man who single-handedly put a stop to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The films that you mock and criticize were made for the sole purpose of celebrating his life and legacy. It hardly requires explanation to address your arguments.

  4. I'm finding it difficult to answer your complaints because of my inability to discern if Bart O is a real name or a joke, and thus I don't know whether I should concern myself even marginally with maintaining polite and respectful discourse. I probably shouldn't, but I shall do my best just for the halibut.

    First of all, this essay has no design whatsoever to be either an invective or encomium of the man that was John Kennedy. I said as much in my opening paragraph: "… the hype over JFK’s decades-past departure is most intriguing not for any resounding strength or defect in the man’s individual character but for what it reveals about the American people’s psyche and their vain obsession with commemorating or correcting the curses imposed on their earthly condition." For the purposes of writing this piece, I frankly couldn't care less about Kennedy's record as a husband, a Catholic, a statesman, a diplomat, or any other figure. My intention was only to expose the media frenzy over his demise for the narcissistic farce that it is and to "mock breast cancer and AIDS awareness", as you have so acutely noted without giving any reason why "raising awareness" for such misfortunes is at all undeserving of mockery. The fact of the matter is that simply calling attention to any given person's suffering in no way cures that person of disease; it only focuses attention onto yourself and makes you feel more noble or compassionate for whatever that's worth - nothing.

    As for all the movies and books I didn't bother to list by name, I would ask only one question of you: if these films were "made for the sole purpose of celebrating his life and legacy", then why didn't the filmmakers mobilize to release them earlier than 50 years after the topical events came to pass, and why should they charge consumers even a dollar or a moment watching paid advertisements to witness "the story that needed to be told"? The answer is that people make movies to make money. If they didn't make any money, then they wouldn't make any movies. Producers, writers, and directors are no more knightly and selfless crusaders for a culturally enriched populace than are the CEOs of massive tech and retail corporations; their only noble quest is to turn a profit by selling a product, and when the public appetite for that product runs out, they have to look elsewhere for their living. Hence the extinction of pagers, fat television boxes, and JFK assassination celebration documentaries within a couple of months.

  5. In response to your first paragraph, I don't see why one would have to maintain a polite and respectful discourse with one he thought was a fool, as you clearly think of me. Nor do I see why my name would have to be pseudonymous or a joke of some kind.
    As for your second response, I stand by what I said. Your writing may not have been intended as an invective of J.F.K.or Nelson Mandela, but it definitely carries some negative connotations: "the president (Reagan) who’s famous mainly for acting like a philanderer, romanticizing about outer space, looking like a sexy movie star, and getting killed." Not really the most respectful way of putting it. You also desired that I should give a reason that breast cancer and AIDS awareness aren't worthy of mockery. Breast cancer awareness and AIDS awareness are intended to fight the ignorance of the disease and death in our country, (or maybe it isn't, I really don't know, but I highly doubt any argument is going to change your views) and to ask for donations to combat these illnesses (again, maybe not).
    In your third paragraph you essentially said that the movies and books were made for the sole purpose of making money. You may or may not have a point. Time and money goes into producing each of those books and movies, and so money will inherently have to be made afterwords to cover the costs of making them. As for the blockbuster, high budget, Hollywood films with no values or morals that are produced everyday, I agree wholeheartedly with you. These movies are made for no other reason but to make money.
    You seemed to think of me and talk to me as though I were some liberal moron. Do not mistake me. I refrain from concerning myself with the politics of a nation that owes trillions of dollars in debt and is on the brink of war with practically all of Asia. I couldn't care less who gets elected every four years or who the senators and congressmen are (and honestly why should I?). You too make the mistake of seeing America as something to be looked up to. Although it may have been founded on honorable principles, it soon fell prey to the Democrats and Republicans, who can't see the country as anything except a competition for first place.

  6. So, on the one hand I ought to "respect the office" of my Democrat and Republican leaders in Washington, whose salary I pay and whose families I feed and whose HBO subscriptions and iPhone plans I fund, simply on the basis that those same politicians somehow came to occupy that position and thus should be treated as members of an elite class – but not if I think that they're fools, in which case I need not maintain polite and respectful discourse with or about them – but on the other hand I should never make the mistake of honoring a nation that has fallen prey to unlawful, corrupt, and self-serving Democrat and Republican vipers, who "can't see the country as anything except a competition for first place".

    You "refrain from concerning yourself with the politics of a nation that owes trillions of dollars in debt and is on the brink of war with practically all of Asia", by which I assume you mean North Korea, a mere speck of dust on the surface of the world, or Syria, which is in the Middle East, and yet you don't hesitate to engage in protracted and admittedly pointless ("I highly doubt any argument is going to change your views") bouts on the internet with a patriotic guy who does avidly concern himself with American government and believes that the policies we enact and the words we use and the phony celebrations we hold do have significant, long-lasting consequences.

    Alas, your logic is irrefutable. I cannot compete with an intellect like yours. I shall retire from the mean and insensitive diversion of sociopolitical commentary and return to the business of film criticism, where my opinion is far more cherished. God bless you, Bart O, for your dedication to fostering awareness among selfish and ignorant Americans that people die and we sometimes lack the means to save them.

    Merry Christmas to you, sir, Happy Newyear, and Enlightened J.F.K. Assassination Month.


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