I feel like, as an American, you almost expect that at any moment a bullet could come whizzing past and some crazy person with a gun could go on a rampage. It’s part of living in this country: You just know that sometime, somewhere, someone’s about to go off their rocker, and if you’re unfortunate enough to be there when it happens, that could be it.
My wife and I discussed this as we sat in a bar in Downtown Detroit this past weekend and watched on CNN as the news unfolded that a gunman in Norway had opened fire on a children’s camp sponsored by the Labor party, killing (by the revised total at press time) 68 people, mostly kids. That same gunman, the very Norwegianly-named Anders Behring Breivik, is also responsible for bombing several government buildings in Oslo, and when explaining himself in court Monday, said he was acting to save Norway from takeover by Muslims and Marxists.
It’s terrible when someone takes the usual state-sponsored paranoia to violent extremes, and a downright fucking tragedy when Crazy Guy With Gun takes out children. My wife and I sat at that bar, discussing how at the first pop we’d jump over the granite slab topping it, back up to the bar underneath and start lighting Molotov cocktails to throw at the imagined shooter, and watched as the news cycle—because God forbid they stick with one story for more than six minutes at a clip—switched over to the news that singer Amy Winehouse had died at the age of 27.
Beyond immediate family and friends, who the fuck cares about Amy Winehouse dying in comparison to an act of homegrown terrorism that will ripple out to personally affect the lives of thousands, if not tens of thousands of people? That’s not to mention the possible policy or security implications resulting, which could affect millions. What’s one alcoholic pop singer set against that, especially when the media just a few weeks ago gleefully reported that Winehouse, drunk and out of rehab, was booed off the stage on what was to be her European comeback tour? I read the story on the BBC and it was like their boner was popping through my computer monitor. Now it’s, “Oh this is so sad,” and “What a tragedy.” Are you kidding me?
It’s like the kid who breaks a lamp and then goes, “Ah heck, I sure wish I had that lamp back. It was pretty great,” but the absolute worst part was that they had to cut away from something really, really important to do one of the most tasteless turnarounds I’ve ever seen. No wonder no one watches news anymore. I felt dirty looking at it.
Amy Winehouse probably had a few hundred thousand fans out there, and some people who were genuinely shocked by her death—although, if you couldn’t see that one coming, then please receive my congratulations on your ability to not pay attention to media-driven bullshit—but how are you going to weigh the life of one pop star who had access to all the resources on the planet and blatantly refused any help she was given against the life of even one innocent kid gunned down by a madman? I’m not saying Amy Winehouse’s death is not news, I’m just saying it’s not news that matters.
And while I’m bringing it around to other things kicking around in the media, this is just one more reason I hope that John Boehner and Barrack Obama can’t get over the ridiculous pissing contest and that the country goes into default, and that the fallout from that is worse than anyone can imagine. I’m talking capital-letters Zombie Apocalypse here. Because I don’t care what you say or how you try to justify it, you will never be able to convince me that the death of one spoiled hack is anything when set against an act so horrifying it will leave its imprint on an entire generation of a country’s population, or that any society that thinks it is is at all worth saving. Shame on us all.