Tuesday, December 7, 2004

American tongue-in-cheek

ND Batra

From The Statesman

Lee Gomes of the Wall Street Journal wonders “why no one has yet run for office by campaigning against the computer. After all, you couldn’t ask for a better sin-delivery system than a PC with a fast Web connection.” Well, you might as well call a gun as a death-delivery system, but no one dares run a political campaign against guns in the United States and get elected. If you talk against guns, some gun lover would fire back, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” If a politician runs against guns, it means that not only he is challenging the people’s right to bear arms (Second Amendment) but also getting into a crossfire with the National Rifle Association—the 500-pound gorilla who does not need a gun to kill you. Senator John Kerry, who lost to George W. Bush, eagerly flaunted his Vietnam credentials, Purple Hearts and all, as well as his love for hunting by going on a goose-hunt, which proved to be of no avail.

But Gomes has a point: “With a week or two of patient work, someone with their hands on the keyboard of such a system—no matter what his or her age—could download a
Kinsey library of erotica, play videogames depicting the cruelest kind of violence, steal a studio’s worth of music and movies, and gamble away small fortune.” If politicians can’t fight against the girlie men” and “bushwhooping women of Hollywood, how would they fight the Internet, where no man or beast has much control? Whether it was Dr. Alfred Kinsey or the Playboy that liberated Americans sexually, or corrupted them, as Rev. Jerry Falwell would say, nonetheless, sexual imagery, heterosexual, homosexual, omni-sexual, has been seeping into American social ecology, even into corporate brands. Is omni-sexual a new word in American lexicon?

But consider this. A Saks Fifth Avenue ad shows two itsy-bitsy girls, one a coy blond and the other a brash oriental with the belly-button up, pants slipping down with palms in her hip pockets, face-to-face on two opposite pages of a glossy magazine, with the tag line: “Saks loves it: both ways”. Both ways? Very naughty indeed, I thought and wondered if it were a new form of omni-sexuality. A constant hovering anxiety in the “Sex and the City” used to be the question on the mind of every single woman who met a hunk: Is he gay? Of course if he were a heterosexual, a girl could have a chance. She could steal him from his girlfriend or wife. But what can a girl a do with a homo? Oh, yes! She could cry with Dame Edna in Back with Vengeance! : “Darling, this is not a shoe. This is a cry for help, my possum.” Dame Edna has a new act for the world and could get away with her conceit, “Sorry dear, I am just not feeling naughty tonight,” but what can a single girl with sex on her mind do in New York, the city of spin, spin, spin, and sin. Girls are not calendar-resistant, are they? They wrinkle. They shrivel. Boys move on.

Of course you have heard of water-resistant and wind-resistant, but what is calendar-resistant? That’s Timberland’s ad for its men’s Mixed-Media Jacket, which says: “It is quite possible the jacket will last longer than you.” Something to leave behind to make the world a better place, when your “too, too sordid” self is gone! You could pass on the jacket to one of your poor relatives whom you never liked or donate it to the Salvation Army. That however reminds me of a plumber who came to my house to replace a leaky pipe and said that the new pipe had a life-long warranty. Amazed, I said: Whose life are we talking about? Yours or mine? He never felt so embarrassed. He had a triple by-pass a year before. Just like the Timberland’s jacket, the plumber’s pipe too was calendar-resistant. And that reminds of me something else that was touted as calendar-resistant. A few years ago, a young thirty-something brunette was shown gloating over her Seiko watch: “My husband has left me, but my Seiko is still with me.” Joy to the world! Seiko is ticking and the woman is waiting for another gentleman caller.

Talking of gentlemen and lovers, a few years ago I overheard an ambitious woman humming to herself: There are a thousand-and-one ways of getting rid of your lover. And she got rid of him, kept the sprawling house and the kids, and moved on to another city, another hunt. But that’s merciful, though she had a killer instinct and could have done more. In a red, red state in the South, where I was a professor once upon a time, the Bible belt where there are more divorces and single moms than in the blues states, a colleague whose department work I was evaluating said to me in a loud whisper, “In my county, we don’t kill anyone unless there’s a reason.” I got the message loud and clear. But that was no better than two men of God who one evening came to the beautiful Eagle Lake where the university had given me a living quarter and said that they wanted to deliver me from my sins. One of them said, “Do you go to church?” I said, no, but why? The other said, “Do you want to go to heaven or hell?” I said, “ I would rather stay here.” They laughed and left me alone.

Just as the Internet and Hollywood deliver to us our daily pipedream of sins,
men of God are always ready to deliver us from our daily sins. Some call it checks and balances. I call it a supply chain system of American values.

No comments:

Post a Comment