PURE VITRIOL


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I’m retired and for that reason have few demands on my time. I’m free to waste countless hours trolling through Facebook posts and sifting through thousands of pictures served up by Google image searches to find some to post on Facebook and caption, often to the delight of friends and strangers. But lately I’ve gotten a markedly different reaction to some of the YouTube posts I’ve shared.

I don’t remember how I got started watching these “it’s all a conspiracy” videos, but I’ve seen many in the last few weeks. Most of them are produced by people as lonely and disconnected as me, recording an echoey voice-over in their best fake Rod Serling voice, but others are quite well done, and heavily researched. This is especially true about those that deal with the Kennedy Assassination and 9/11. I’ve found some great ones that demand my full attention and reward me with a completely new explanation for these events, as well as an appreciation for the danger inherent in believing the official explanations offered by my own government.

When I post these on Facebook, I don’t usually even comment on them. It’s just one more item I’ve tossed into the stream that seems to go by more quickly as the number of “friends” I have increases. But the reaction I’m getting from some of these “friends” startles me. Pure vitriol. Rabid scorn. Threats to un-friend me.

Why such a departure from the customary lethargic likes? What button have I pushed? My critics attack everything about these videos, often focusing on production quality, as if that mattered in comparison to the depth of the subject matter. If the World Trade Center buildings were wired for demolition by agents of our own government, it seems that is a heck of a lot more important than the quality of the microphone used to interview firemen after the event.

I imagine within the next thirty years the truth will come to light about these events, and a consensus belief will emerge. It’s been forty years since the fall of Saigon and the end of our debacle in Viet Nam, and almost everybody by now agrees that war was a tragic mistake, as was the eight-year carpet bombing of nearby Laos, a country with no army to defend itself. The amount of unexploded ordinance still on the ground in Laos is shocking, and we are finally starting to feel shocked after our forty-year bout of amnesia and indifference.

So when we finally do realize that the Warren Commission report on Kennedy’s assassination was written by the man most probably responsible for the event, and that the myriad of facts surrounding the destruction of the twin towers had little or nothing to do with Arab terrorists, we’ll probably do something about it, though it will be too late to punish any but the longest-lived perpetrators. By that time the Bush family will be happily ensconced in their Paraguay ranch and the Cheneys and Rumsfelds will be but a bitter memory. Everyone will have forgiven Colin Powell, saying he was a good guy who had been given bad information.

I think the intense reaction to these posts of mine comes from the fact that nobody wants to think about it anymore, because it might require action, uncovering old wounds, changing the way we elect our governments, and that sounds like a lot of work. Far easier to make fun of the whistle-blowers, with their silly YouTube documentaries and calls to action. Lump them all together with the World Will End on September 23rd When A Giant Comet Strikes and Obama is a Shape Shifter videos.

By the way, it’s obvious that few of these YouTube posts have any original content, but are simply the conspiracy equivalent of rock videos, with snippets of horror movies mashed together interspersed with a few words here and there. They most often resemble History or Sci-Fi channel programs, except there is no premise, no discourse, no train of thought to follow. There is no script. They’re simply designed to get the least sophisticated of us to watch for a few minutes, in order to earn their “creators” ad revenue from Google.

I guess I’m a sucker for any old bald weirdo in a Montana trailer playing Dan Rather and giving us the straight dope on some problem he thinks we need to know about. Most of the time the camera is way too close (because it’s also the microphone) and I’ve seen one where the camera was sitting on guy’s chest and it rose and fell with his breathing.

THE SLOW AND AGONIZING DEATH OF CONTENT CREATION


Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five , 1926 . Left to right : Louis Armstrong at piano holding trumpet , Johnny St . Cyr with banjo , Johnny Dodds , Kid Ory , Lil Hardin Armstrong . American jazz band . Louis Armstrong , jazz trumpeter , singer , born 4 August 1901 , died 6 July 1971 . Hardin Armstrong , jazz pianist , composer , arranger , singer , born 3 February 1898 , died 27 August 1971 .  Jazz band . Editorial use only

The world is awash in ways to deliver content, but content worth delivering is still in short supply.  Now that everybody has a phone that can take a good picture there are still precious few photos that will make a viewer gasp in wonder. Now that recording music or video is within the reach of anyone with a laptop, there are still few movies or music compilations to get excited about.

The fact that content is given away for free is hardly an inducement for anyone to devote him to life-long discipline in the creative arts.  Getting a Master of Fine Arts in a discipline will not lead to any sort of gainful employment.  There are no meaningful certifications in the creative arts.

We are in a strange place with our culture. I can hear Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five play Potato Head Blues on my cell phone, laptop, pad, and if I were to buy a blue-tooth enabled hearing aid, I could even listen to that snappy tune on that if I wanted.  I think I already own one pair of good headphones and three pairs of ear buds, enabling me to listen without being constrained to any one location.  I have the freedom to consume anything that is created nowadays, except that I am unaware of any such product. One could assume that alive today there are many artists as talented and driven as was Armstrong, but I have no way to knowing who they are.

Would Armstrong have been able to develop his prodigious talent if he had been unable to get paid for writing and performing? I imagine if he had to endure four years at University in order to get a teaching credential in music in order to lead a high school band, such an ordeal might have taken the wind out of his sails before he ever bothered to record himself and distribute it free on Youtube. Burdened by student loan debt and exhausted at the end of the day from preparing lesson plans and the onus to constantly proving his worth to school administrators, he might have soured on the whole music thing by the time he hit his prime.  Bix Beiderbecke only made it to the age of 28, so going that route would have surely been a fool’s bargain for him. Chopin and Mozart would have proved too difficult to get along with the school board or the PTA, and their only hope might have been to seek permanent disability status.

Maybe the reason I don’t know what to get excited about in the arts today has less to do with my age than it does with the fact that we have created a world that actively discourages creativity. Rather than being a boon to artists, the Internet has proven to be the final stake through the heart, the last knot in the noose, the biggest clump of dirt thrown on the coffin.