Sometimes it hurts for people to reach out. And, although we are taught what normal is, normal isn’t the same on every mind.
I suppose in a world where the overall ideal is not so much whether we are right or wrong, but whether we are able to fit the paradigm of those with the most control or the patterns of behavior with the highest degree of frequency — it can become difficult not to create anti-heroes. As the bloodshed in the cities of the US begin to reflect that of more defined warzones, and the college students of our nation become more precise and unfortunately, imaginative, in their execution of their fellow citizens, there seems to be a pattern, a connection between the storylines we are entertained by and those exacted on the news. It doesn’t take a lengthy discourse into Joseph Campbell’s lifelong musings about myth and story to connect most of the dots.
Regardless of whatever dedicated field of study I lay claim to, it seems to be pretty obvious that the impact of storyline has entered into our psychological veins and intoxicated us all to some degree. The scripts that we are culturally allowed to play out based on individual strengths and socially accepted — or desired — patterns of behavior dictate to a large degree the lives we acquire outside of the book, theater, or video game. Our identities are not as concrete as our friends or lovers would have them to be. They are malleable configurations; psychological compounds, blocks, pushed, twisted, and stacked to appease our egos, or our more believable ideation. As much as we love to nibble on the thought that we are what we are made to be, the accountability of adults, or at least the strongest mind amongst us, must lie in the reflection that we are mostly what we create our Selves to be. The ultimate question from there is where do we seek inspiration for who we deem our “self” to be.
Outside of a belief in a static natural environment where everything presented is a concrete, the dynamic can present a danger, because, well, there are passions and a society of hungers to be fed. While the individual must find their own defined notions of what they are, or who, the society cannot be held to such a faith. The killer must be discriminated against. The military might train up our violent professionals, but those capabilities must be packaged in a controlled identity; the patriot, the honorable service member, the national person. There is no society without a normative set of concrete barriers of behavior that dictate and discriminate in favor of the status quo. A nation of killers must always have an “other” for without such that nation will only implode and feed upon it Self. So, what happens inside the mind of those that society fails to define a satisfying role and identity for? Or, more better suited for my own purposes, how do you present the identities that people choose to play out in such a way as to reveal the actual purpose for the role’s creation?
The most salient emotion the human is programmed to consider is pain. Some base their identities on the indulgences subscribed to in order to escape the pain. We use pain, often ostracization, to force one another to identify with the roles we have chosen for them. We bully one another into the postures that best fit our belief of the world, or our desires for it. This is not just in the solely physical pursuits, as we gather our most read into peer committees to review whether a work will be considered intelligent or not. Our writers forge fiction from reality in an effort to define the morals and values we will discriminate and base our standards upon. We use the hero as the moral compass that protects us from the pain promised in the antagonist’s victory dance. And yet, what becomes the mind of those that find the hero scripts inaccessible? What happens when moral codes become so diluted by the need to fit such a particular audience, that they become completely impossible to reach? What happens when the villians of our scripts are more attainable and irresistible than our heroes?
Even in the most popular religious books, our antagonist, the Devil, is left unharmed as the prophets do battle with political figures. A tempting character, and I often wonder why the world isn’t more pronounced in their worship of such an indominatable script. The nobility of legend is no match for such a mythical being, and yet we often need our hedonism and sociopathology wrapped in a calling more palatable than logic and actuality. For legends must be scrutinized to no end, and the mythical can be packaged in liberal notions of freedom without discipline, moderation, or social responsibility. It can be difficult to praise Huey P. Newton, but Batman can be a “dark” knight for us all, unhampered by judgments or a critical assessment of elite posturing and messages of the rich controlling the poor even in the age of the 99% Occupation. Of course, I suppose it is easier to deal with contradicting archetypes dancing merrily in our heads when the special effects team pulls out all the stops. But whatever, right? Sure…
People have used story, pure fiction or elaborately decorated history, to build the lessons they want to teach, to mold society, and to incorporate ideation. It becomes laughable when we seek thousand dollar paragraphs for common sensical explanations. People enjoy living up to ideals and standards of power; whether for attention or because it feels good to be powerful, or because life is a confusing place without an identity so we seek to identify with that which is easiest for us or most acceptable by those around us. The media is the vehicle by which we tell our stories. Media impacts the scripts we live out. It provides a context with which we can readily provide behaviors for an often confusing and fast paced existence. Like a brother told me once, life always shows up, media presents well prepared solutions for us to deal with life. But, we don’t all see the same solution as fitting.
How many children in Chicago reacting to a statewide gang culture have thought of them Selves as the independent robber Omar from the HBO series, “The Wire”? Just a question. Although, it has been stated by police and criminal investigators in Chicago that many of the murders and instances of violent crime are being committed by independent perpretators as opposed to youths involved in gang warfare solely. Coincidence? Of course. We discriminate against criminals, the very label of “criminal” is the highest form of discrimination in any society. Such is the case to the degree that the US Constitutional amendment that absolves chattel slavery also makes it clear that a person convicted of a crime is still to be defined as a slave. In a world where such discrimination has always been par for the course, why has the media made the anti-hero, the criminal, such a sexy bit of concoction? Why has the metaphor for Afkan (Afrikan-Amerikkkan) masculinity persisted as the “thug”? If the idea is to create pain to surround the reenacting of the criminal, why is it so much more pleasurable to be the antagonist? Why is the anti-hero so much more appealing? Why do we find our Selves rooting on the enemy of the state especially when they are depicted as being more an enemy to humanity that just the state? How much of the White terrorism that we are obviously unprepared to deal with a product of media extremism as audiences demand more and more grit to satiate their pallete?
Yeah, I don’t always have the answers either…