Tag Archives: gun debate

Daily Discussion with BQB – The Fame Problem

Hey 3.5 readers.  Your old pal BQB here.

So, there’s been a lot of debate about guns lately – should they be restricted, regulated, banned etc and I’m not really here to talk about that, largely because if you want to there are plenty of other places to do so as the debate continues on all over the Internet.

There’s an additional problem we aren’t considering – the fame problem.

I think since the beginning of time, there has always been a desire to be liked by a lot of people.  I’m sure in a prehistoric cave, there was always one more dynamic than usual caveman who, because of his wily caveman ways, managed to score with more hot cave ladies and get people to throw him their twigs and berries and rocks and shit.

As time went on, people sought fame, whether through heroics on the battlefield, or in politics, or through the written word…people always wanted to be universally loved and admired but I don’t think it was until movies were invented that people really became enamored of fame on a large scale.

You see – a) life was hard.  You couldn’t really chase fame if you had to work on a farm 20 hours a day and b) there were just so many finite opportunities for fame, ranging from a handful in medieval times (either you were lucky enough to be the king or you weren’t) to maybe a few choice movie roles as Hollywood began its Golden Age.

Ironically, things people want tend to multiply and so, as time went on, more opportunities for fame grew…until the Internet happened…and well, that grew the opportunities a little but I mean, in the late 1990s, you might have said, “Hey I could get famous with this Internet thing!” but then you read a book on how to write HTML code and say, “Screw it! Mediocrity, here I come!”

At least that’s what I did in the late 1990s.

Then came social media – the best, worst invention ever made.

Suddenly, you could talk to all your friends in one place.  You could make new friends.  Maybe you’re shy in person but witty behind a screen.  You build followers.  Each new follower is like an extra little piece of validation, a pat on the back from the world.

I remember when Facebook first began, I found a lot of trends to be odd.  People would take photos of their lunch and proclaim it the best lunch ever.  Or they’d share 10,000 photos of their kids and every little thing they did was the most amazing expression of cuteness ever.  Or they’d say something witty, or at least they thought it was witty.

I was actually surprised at the number of female Archie Bunkers in my orbit.  Remember on “All in the Family,” how Archie would berate Edith for being a bad housekeeper?  All of a sudden, I’d see posts show up in my feed all like, “My lazy ass husband never does any dishes and I come home and dinner isn’t on the table and blah, blah, blah.”

Lady, please.  A) No man can say that on social media about his wife and expect to live to tell the tale and B) Fine, if you’re husband isn’t pulling his fair share of the house workload, then have it out with him in private, but stop airing your dirty laundry.

That isn’t to say men don’t do dumb things either but I was just surprised at how it suddenly became acceptable for women to dump on their husbands online….because I don’t think its as acceptable for men to do that to their wives.  Personally, I think families should hash out their differences offline.

But I digress.  Lady Gaga has an album called “The Fame Monster” and that’s what happened.  It’s like there’s a little fame monster in all of us.  We all believe we are great…and that fame is the ultimate ability to do whatever you want in life, to be able to make your own choices rather than be saddled with the cards that the universe randomly dealt you at birth.  Were you born into a rich or poor family?  A loving one or a shitty one?  A supportive family or a bunch of leeches?  Do you look good?  Are you athletic?  Are you hot?  Are you a lump of crap, the loser in the genetic lottery?  All of these issues and more go into how successful you might be.

So social media feeds that fame monster.  People liked my post about my lunch.  People liked my post where  I said that witty thing.  Oh, I know!  I can find a mundane, tired little point about something that no one really noticed because who looks at anything that closely, claim I am OUTRAGED and then people will notice me.

Thus, OUTRAGE culture began…conversely, that’s when comedy died.  Think about it.  The last uproariously funny comedy I saw was “The Hangover” in 2009 and that’s when social media was just stepping out of its infancy and into toddlerhood.

Is there a gun problem?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  The rights of all the law abiding citizens who keep a gun for self defense vs the wack-a-doos who can’t handle the responsibility.  It’s all being discussed.  Hopefully, there’s a solution that makes everyone happy though that’s doubtful.

But we’re ignoring the fame problem.  We have to be honest – guns existed for many, many years, whereas school shootings have only been a regular staple of TV news coverage for roughly the past twenty years, ever since Columbine in the late 1990s.

And usually, the shooter always fits a particular pattern – a kid who is socially isolated at school, not very popular, picked on and made fun of, pissed that he’s a joke until he decides he’s going to get even, and he’s going to get famous while he does it.

And sadly, he usually does.  In the wake of these shootings, the shooter’s name is plastered all over the media.  Can we blame the media?  I don’t know.  On the one hand, their job is to inform.  On the other hand, maybe they can just say the name once or twice and then just say, ‘the shooter” rather than give the shooter the desired fame.

Why am I thinking about this?  Because the recent YouTube shooter was, in my opinion, a shining example of “the fame monster” that is lurking in so many hearts out there.

Like other social media sites, YouTube is a great invention in many ways.  It gives the voiceless a voice.  It’s giving talented people a chance they never had before.  From the entertainment industry to political discourse, stars are being born online and more often than not, they’re doing it with a few simple purchases from Best Buy.  Got a camera?  Congrats.  You’ve got a show.

Meander through the YouTube well and you’ll pull up some great homemade stuff that you can’t believe was produced on a tight budget, a testament to the wit of the video’s creators.

You also might find a lot of schlock from people who tried…and they meant well…maybe if they knew about basic movie making techniques they’d of done a little better…but hey, they aren’t hurting anyone.

Then you also have people making total asses out of themselves and you wonder why there isn’t anyone taking them aside and saying, “Hey…you look really stupid.”

Before the shooting, the woman in question made a lot of videos.  I’ve seen some brief clips on the news.  To my eye, they look like crap.  Perhaps among the animal’s rights activist vegan community, they were awesome, I don’t know.

She made money on her videos.  Then YouTube’s video monetization rules changed and I mean, yeah, I’ll get to that in another post.  There’s understandable concern over YouTube’s monetization policy changes but obviously, and I hope I’m being clear, that those policy changes did not justify this woman’s actions.  Nothing could justify what she did.

Will we ever know what was going on inside her head?  We know her father called the police and told them his daughter had a grudge against YouTube.  We know she posted some anti-YouTube rants.

It’s probably a safe bet that the videos she made gave her a chance to feed her fame monster…and when the videos received less hits and/or money, her fame monster become very hungry, so she fed it the only way she knew how, by seeking fame as a mass shooter, perhaps in the hope that in death, her name would be plastered all over the news.  That’s why I’m not using her name here.

Somehow, we have to figure out how to tame the fame monster in all of us, to figure out how to use social media responsibly.  Just as a hammer’s purpose, when used properly, is to bang a nail, social media can also be used as an effective tool – to talk to friends you’d otherwise never get to see, to express opinions (hopefully well thought out ones not posed in a way to alienate those who disagree) and so on.

Some people are even able to channel that fame monster in a positive way, creating quality content that stands out above the rest-  but there’s the rub…

We really need to go back to the day when people only got famous if they did something.

Enough of the fame for fame’s sake.  Enough of the “it’s better to be famous for having done something bad than to never have been known at all” nonsense.  No, that isn’t right at all.  An 1800s farmer who never hurt anyone and who was good to his family is a better person even though no one today knows who he is than some dipshit making a video where he’s eating a tide pod or snorting a condom.

Is there a way to fix any of this?  I don’t know.  There’s the second amendment, so you can’t take away social media from people who do things on social media that make themselves look like assholes.  You can’t ban shitty content.  Honestly, if you could ban shittily made content with low production values, this blog would be in the trash heap posthaste.

Maybe it all just comes down to parenting and family, I suppose.  Though then again, while I don’t know anything about this woman’s family, her father did call the police and try to warn them about her YouTube grudge so…maybe even when family members notice someone in the family is falling apart, that isn’t always enough to prevent a tragedy, though family should still try when they can.

Maybe it’s up to all of us.  Social media is great, but it’s not everything.  Seek out more in your life.  Fame is very unlikely for most of us.  The odds just aren’t in the average person’s favor.  While social media has tipped those odds more toward the average nobody’s favor, the odds still aren’t good, so seek contentment in that hand you were dealt, lousy as it may be.

Seek success in relationships, in love, romance, in money, yes money, seek professional opportunities and good jobs.  This lady probably might have helped more animals as a vet than by dancing around in dumb videos with pictures of animals in the background.

Don’t shy away from social media if you think you have the next great idea, just do your idea, do it well, and be prepared to fall flat on your face as most do.  Have backup plans.  Realize there is more to life than fame, and if no one knows who you are when you die, that doesn’t make you a loser.

If you make it, great.  If you don’t, you don’t.  Never be in a position where you need social media to survive.

OK.  That’s all I have to say.  Everyone, please stop being assholes, please stop shooting up places.  Put the guns down.  Don’t give bullets, give hugs (consensual hugs.)

And get off hte damn computer and/or cell phone once in awhile and smell the roses, will you?  Those roses are more real than your dreams of Internet fame may ever be, and when you’re 70, you won’t care about making another social media post, but you’ll care if you didn’t smell enough roses (i.e. roses being a metaphor for experience good and or beautiful things in the world.)

OK, now let me go check out how many hits this post will toss into my fame monster’s belly.

Discuss in the comments, and you too can put a little piece of kibble in your fame monster’s belly.

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What Can the Original Death Wish (1974) Movie Tell Us About the Gun Debate?

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal BQB here.

So, here’s the deal.  Every new generation, for some reason, truly and sincerely believes they are the very first to discover an issue, as though prior generations had never considered it before.

For obvious and tragic reasons, the gun debate is raging all over TV and over the Internet these days.  Funny though, are you aware that a 44 year old movie pretty much sums up the arguments for and against gun control in one fell swoop?

No, I’m not talking about the recently released reboot starring Bruce Willis, although I do want to see it.

I’m talking about the original Death Wish, which by now, is roughly the same age as a middle aged man.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  I rented it last night and dated as the film is, it still hashes out all the talking points about guns that are being bandied about today.

You see, 3.5 readers, in the early 1970s, there was a crime wave in the inner cities.  Nixon actually won the presidency due to promises to get tough on crime.  People were fed up by the fact that they couldn’t walk down the street without getting hassled by hoodlums and Hollywood cashed on in this development, producing all manner of films where tough guys, fed up with the system’s inability to protect them, take law into their own hands and blow bad guys away with big ass hand cannons.  “Death Wish” was the most notable of these films, though it runs neck and neck with Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” series.

The plot?  New York City architect Paul Kersey is a mild mannered liberal professional and family man.  He loves his wife, his daughter, and abhors violence, having even been given a medical corps position during the Korean War to avoid having to kill anyone.

All this changes when his wife is killed and daughter brutally raped by a pack of hooligans led by none other than a young Jeff Goldblum.  “Life uh..finds a way.”

While some hero tales provide an instant transformation i.e. the main character instantly gains powerful skills overnight, Kersey’s progression from frumpy dad to badass killing machine is a slow one.

Kersey’s informed there’s not much the police can do.  His son-in-law, Jack, laments that to the government, his wife and Paul’s wife are little more than statistics, a certain number of crime victims that the powers that be deem acceptable, even normal, and that they’ll just have to suck it up and get used to it.

Pissed, Kersey starts carrying a sock full of quarters to protect himself.  When a mugger attacks him, he gives the mugger a sock knock and sends the ne’er-do-well running.   He learns an interesting lesson – if criminals are made to fear for their lives, they’ll run.

Our hero then takes a sojourn to Arizona for work, we he meets Aimes, a business associate who can only be described as a walking, talking caricature of a died in the wool NRA member on steroids.  Frontier justice, Aimes says, is the name of the game in the West.  Everyone’s packing heat and criminals know they’ll be instantly bagged and tagged, so crime rates are low according to the cowboy.

Aimes takes Kersey to a range and we can see Kersey feel like he’s regaining control of his life as he takes aim at targets and fires.  He reveals that he did some hunting in his youth and had to qualify as a marksman in the Army, so he has some skill.  The cowboy gives the city slicker a present, a rather menacing looking revolver.

When Kersey returns to NYC, he starts carrying the pistol.  Oddly, he’s accosted by another mugger.  Kersey keeps his cash and puts a bullet in the bad guy instead.  He runs home and is so horrified by what he’s done that he throws up.

But soon…Kersey becomes addicted to murdering criminals…or does he?  It’s sort of an up for interpretation part of the film.

Fun fact – although he’s portrayed as an out of control vigilante, Kersey technically never does anything illegal.  He just takes a lot of walks in the middle of the night in dangerous neighborhoods, on subways, in parks, and is sure to flash a wallet full of money in seedy establishments and/or look like a bumbling old man by carrying groceries.  He never attacks anyone who doesn’t attack first.

Maybe he really is just an old bumbler with a lot of bad luck…but most likely, he’s out trolling, just waiting, nay wishing that some mugger would attack him so he can shoot them in self-defense.

And that’s the rub.  Kersey never shoots anyone who didn’t draw a pistol or a knife on him first.

The overall theme of the movie?  If people arm up, bad guys will pussy out.  Not really a popular message today.

The alternative argument, that society will descend into chaos if everyone is carrying a gun, is briefly explored, but ultimately, it’s suggested that bumbling politicians are to blame.  During one such meeting of incompetent NYC bureaucrats, it’s noted that “the vigilante’s” hijinx have cut muggings down by half, but they’ll never tell the public for fear that the city will become a war zone.

But what’s the alternative?  Better governance?  More police?  A better economy?  More social welfare programs?  A better world where the poor have no need to rob and steal?  Nah, the politicians aren’t going to do any of that.  They’d really just prefer it if families of crime victims like Kersey would shut up, accept their statistic status and go along as if nothing happened.

Is it an awesome film?  In many ways, yes.  The gradual progression from pacified weakling to macho asskicker is fun to watch.

Is it open to criticism?  Yes.  In the past, criminals were portrayed as cartoon characters, bums who made a conscious decision to avoid the honest pay that a hard day’s work could provide and to seek a quick buck by hassling the law abiding instead.  Ergo, they deserved the new holes that Kersey gave to them.  And sure, that often happens but in today’s cinema, criminals are usually given a heartwarming backstory that makes you feel as though the person could not have helped becoming a criminal (often the case, though not always.)

Is the film racist?  Well, I mean, yeah, Kersey does shoot an awful lot of black dudes.  But he shoots white dudes too.  And there are many law abiding African-American characters, from a police officer that assists Kersey in the investigation into his wife’s death, to a working class couple who see a duo of white crooks enter a subway train and decide to get off at the next stop rather than deal with them, to an old black lady who, inspired by tales of the vigilante on the news, whips out a hat pin and stabs the shit out of two reprobates who try to run off with her purse.

I mean yeah, to borrow an SJW term, a white character gunning down so many black characters is “problematic.”  You could argue that perhaps there is a universal code of right and wrong, that no matter what color you are, if you point a gun or a knife at anyone of any color, then you’re getting what’s coming to you if the threatened person takes you out.  It’s a daily war against crime, with law abiding people of all different colors and backgrounds vs.  crooks of all different races and backgrounds.  White Paul Kersey and black old lady with the hat pin are on the same side – two good people who just want to walk home without getting accosted for the money they worked for.

But still, yeah, an awful lot of black dudes buy the farm in this movie so…how to rectify that?  I don’t know.  Maybe if there’s ever another reboot of this film, a black actor could play the Paul Kersey role, gunning down a rainbow of hoodlums from all different backgrounds, or just white guys, or really, does it matter what color the shooter or the person shot is as long as the shooter was being attacked and the attacker was, in fact, a threat to life?  Bruce Willis is one of very few conservative actors willing to touch this franchise, though I think Hollywood missed a real opportunity to hold a coup if they would have cast, say, Denzel Washington or Jamie Foxx as Paul Kersey.

Oh well.  Don’t picket my blog.  I liked the movie though I realize in many ways it’s un-PC, hokey, tacky and well, probably doesn’t hold up today.  I mean, sure if you stand out in NYC in the middle of the night for long enough, you might get robbed once, but no one is as unlucky as Kersey, getting robbed over and over, even if you are out walking around, wishing that someone would rob you so you could kick their ass.  (Note:  just give them the money.)

All in all, what does this old movie tell us?  Does it have any relevance to today’s gun debate?  Basically, the politicians of this movie, just as the politicians in real life today, are as clueless and inept as ever.  Gun control is a sensitive issue and no matter what side you’re on, government officials appear clueless and inept when they fail to make us all safe…and citizens must keep pressure on politicians to make the world a safer place because at the end of the day, they’re lazy and happy to just let victims become more statistics, more faceless victims, more deaths to be expected as just a matter of fact of life.

Overall, depending what side of the fence you’re on, you’ll hate or love this film.  And honestly, I can see why you’d hate or love it.

 

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