Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Don't Want Pudding

For my whole life I've had bouts of alienation. I know everyone has, but mine are weird. I don't just think that I don't belong, that nobody "gets me." When I was in high school I considered the punk kids poseurs.

Blue mohawk? Poseur.
Leather jacket with studs? Poseur.
Earring? Poseur.
Nose ring? Poseur.
Chain connecting earring to nose ring to wallet? Poseur. And stupid.

Those were just surface issues. Gestures by idiots who thought wearing weird clothes was a meaningful "statement." Real counterculturalists didn't need to wear a uniform, not even one designed to reject the status quo. We know there's no way to express our alienation through jewelry or sartorial choices.

Here's the thing: from time to time I think I'm a different species than everyone else. It started when I was a kid. I'd look at all the people around me--my family, my friends, strangers--and I'd think I have no idea how these people operate this way. There were times when I thought I was the only human left alive, that aliens had killed everyone else and replaced them with doppelgangers, and they were observing me to see how humans acted. Yes, that's egotistical, and yes, I understand that I'm not a good example of how humans act, but I was only six or seven.

Other times I thought I'd just been abducted and brought to a planet that was a replica of Earth. I think this might have started after I saw The Martian Chronicles on TV. I remember poisoned pudding.

My point is, there are times when I feel completely off base, like I don't get how EVERYBODY ELSE can react so completely differently from me. That's been happening for the last week or so with this O.J. Simpson book mess. People have been expressing outrage that he'd write this, or that someone would choose to publish it, or that stores (the one for which I work included) would be willing to sell it.

And I couldn't care less.

Do I think he did it? I think he probably did. Do I know he did it? No. And neither does anyone else except O.J. Those who say they do know he did it abuse the concept of knowledge to the point they should be punished by the word-use police.

To know, they'd have had to have experienced it or witnessed it with unimpugnable eyes. I doubt anyone has that perspective. But that's not even at the core of my issue with the outcry.

Whatever justice will be applied to this case already has been. An injustice has been done either way--either he did it, and he's walking free, or he didn't do it, and he's been unjustly hounded for a decade and has a 30+ million dollar settlement against him for a crime he didn't commit (or wasn't responsible for--whatever). I don't care enough to study the case, because whatever I decide, it won't change anything.

But if a guy wants to write a bunch of stuff and try to sell it, who am I to tell him no? If a publisher wants to take a chance on something--again, why do I care? If I'm not interested, I don't buy it (I'm not, and I wouldn't). So there are people in this country stupid enough to buy it--maybe even to be swayed by it. That isn't news. There are people stupid enough to vote for Dubya TWICE. People watch Gilmore Girls and soap operas and NASCAR. Those are all stupid things, but people pay attention to them anyway. Smart people, even. People pay attention to Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. They are stupid. We don't regulate stupid in this country.

So here I am, saying "What's the big deal?" And people are relieved that the book won't be printed. And I have to wonder again--am I from this planet?


Just This Girl said...

I am raising my hand about the NASCAR thing. It can't be helped. This is how I was raised.

Go, Elliot Sadler, you hot stud from Virginia! (You probably have no idea who that is, but MY GOD you would love his accent, Jason.)

dude from planet stupid said...

Unfortunately we do regulate stupid in this country, or at least we try to.
Witness laws about wearing seat belts, driving while talking on a cell phone and spitting on sidewalks. This is Anti-stupid legislation, largely ineffective (and generally unenforced)

As far as OJ's book, I would be OK if they printed a million copies and it became the Microsoft Bob of books(OK, perhaps Kevin Federline is a more current, less geeky reference). That would teach someone a lesson (especially all of those darned trees that had the gall to grow). Hell, Mein Kampf is in print, and I have no desire to buy that. How much worse can it get than that. I doubt OJ would profit substantially anyway, and if he did, it should all end up in the hands of the Goldman and Brown families anyway. No real harm there. Let it rip!

dude from planet stupid said...

By the way, what we don't regulate is free speech that is stupid. With stupid actions we give it a shot. I guess it is a continuum: Stupid Thoughts, stupid speech, and finally stupid actions. We seem to try to draw the line in this society at stupid actions, Jackass movies aside (which are really stupid actions masquerading as free speech, go figure).

Anonymous said...

You aren't from outer space. You're a philosophy major/fiction writer. I have species recognition with you.

stupid: not just for breakfast anymore said...

If being a philosophy/fiction writer doesn't make you an alien, I don't know what would.

Personally, I love Free Speech. It's an inexhaustible source of comdey. Then again, if we censored Stupid Speech, Pres. Bush would be a silent president. Which is probably good.

Ah, NASCAR. ZOOM! left turn! ZOOM! left turn! ZOOM! left turn! ZOOM! RIGHT TURN! OHSHITIAMDEAD!

Mein Kampf has some significance as an autobiography of a genocidal megalomaniac. OJ's book is an attempt by a pathetic former celebrity to boost himself back into public awareness at the expense of his humanity, although what he had left of it is questionable.

Jason said...

Jess: No need to explain--we all have our issues. I think mine is the perpetual need to find something to gripe about.

DFPS: I think the drive to regulate stupid is related to the degree to which said stupid might affect others. I like your continuum.

Diana: We are a lonely, twisted breed.