Sunday, August 10, 2008

There's A Special Place In Hell For People Like You...

This week I caught a few things on television that sincerely made me reexamine the salvagability of the human race. It all started early in the week when I watched George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead On Demand; it was the new, post-technology boom version, and of course it focused on self-reflexive elements. At the end of the movie, the narrator attempted to explain what set off the army of zombies, and we saw a few country boy hunters stringing up dead bodies (though where they got the bodies is unclear; it is kind of assumed they were already “turned” when they strung them up) and using them as target practice. As they blew one woman’s head clear off, the narrator asked the audience if we were worth saving. I rolled my eyes at that point; the entire movie was over the top, and honestly it’s kind of hard to feel bad for zombies anyway.

Then Netflix finally delivered Crazy Love, a documentary about a man (Burt) who was so possessive over his ex-mistress, Linda, (in the “if I can’t have you, no one can” sort of way) he hired two guys to throw acid in her face. It’s unclear if his intention was for her to die or just seriously scar, but she ended up blinded; he went to jail and wrote to her often; and when he got out, they got back together and are now married. From interviews with the man, it was clear he was a sociopath; he didn’t have that trigger that told him when to stop talking because he was digging himself a deeper hole and incriminating himself; rather he liked to hear his own stories, however sick they made him sound. He manipulated her, and he manipulated the system. He pretended to be lovelorn, but he was really just calculating: when he took the glass from his spectacles and cut his wrist (he showed off the scars proudly in the interview), his cuts were not deep enough to do anything but give him enough blood to smear around his face (also something he admitted in the interview) so guards would have to remove him from his cell because they couldn’t tell where he was injured. He sickened me, but her situation also sickened me: she was injured in a time when many women still believed they were nothing without a man, and though she managed to be fairly independent, all she seemed to want was to settle down and get married. Sadly, I think she ended up with this nut because she just gave up: sometimes its easier to stop fighting and if he’s in your house with you, at least you know he’s not lurking in doorways or around the corner with a weapon. Linda’s a spunky older woman now, though, and she’s been through a lot, but she’s still standing strong. I only hope she’s with him to this day, just waiting for the right moment to pour acid on his penis while he sleeps.

The final nail in humanity’s coffin, though, was a show I caught on TLC called “Born a Boy, Brought Up a Girl.” It told the tale of a baby named Bruce who had an accident during a circumcision: the doctor burned the foreskin off instead of using a knife, and he ended up burning too much away. The distraught parents saw some infomercial or something else ridiculous with another doctor on television (and yeah, let’s get all our medical advice from late night TV!), and they decided to raise their son as their daughter. They changed his name to Brenda, bought him dresses and dolls, and grew his hair out long. They also began taking him to this TV doctor who apparently was a “gender specialist,” doing a study on such cases. He believed you could train a child to be either gender. I bet he also believes being gay is a choice. In dramatizations (the show said the dialogue was taken from transcripts of the actual therapy sessions), we not only heard the most stereotypical ways of teaching a child the difference between girls and boys—like reinforcing her brother is the boss because he’s a boy so he’s bigger and stronger—but we also heard the doctor get into some very uncomfortable sexual territory. The cap on it all was that when he published his study, of course he only included the positive aspects to make it sound like he knew what he was doing, and God only knows how many countless other helpless children were screwed up because of his practices! Thankfully, though he died in 2004, Bruce/Brenda did get a chance to live as he was always meant to: as a man named David with a family of his own. But he did not come out untouched, and his suicide most definitely was not just because he was depressed over his wife leaving him; he had years and years of past abuse and discomfort which undoubtedly ate away at him.

Seeing these stories-- although very different-- with the same theme and being slapped in the face with the mere fact that these kinds of things go on—that we play with others’ lives just for our own selfish gain—made me to not only not have my own children but children in general because I just couldn’t look them in the eye and teach them that this world is a good place. Because if it truly was—if there was justice in this world—people like Burt and this doctor would be rotting in a gutter somewhere, but instead they thrive, only reinforcing in their own devious little minds that there’s nothing wrong with their ways.

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