A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
In a hundred years, nobody’s going to remember the third week of May, 2011. It won’t appear in history books alongside June 15th, 1215 or December 7th, 1941. Actually, it’ll probably be overlooked entirely because historians will be beating their keyboards promiscuously over the death of a terrorist named Osama bin Laden who got double tapped by some Navy boys, two weeks earlier. Such is the fickle nature of the human experience that a classic week, like this one, will be relegated to the dustbin of history. Luckily, however, the democratization of the 21st century has given anybody with a laptop the opportunity to chronicle our time, which is exactly what I’m going to do.
The week started off — without a bang — when our planet avoided the Apocalypse. This is a better trick than you might imagine, given that the world has been coming to an end ever since humans discovered it had a beginning. Fortunately, Harold Egbert Camping at Family Radio (the guy who started the fuss) admitted he made a mistake and did some quick recalibrations. He’s now saying, without a doubt, October 21, 2011 is the new dawn for the end of time – so at least we’ve got that to look forward to. Just a bit of an aside though, for all those people who donated money to Family Radio — FYI – Harry’s not about to give refunds on a technical error.
Meanwhile, over in Hawaii, a boatload of the world’s prominent psychiatrists are meeting to rewrite the textbook on crazy – literally. Apparently, there’s something called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or affectionately, the DSM-5. This little number is the official GPS for the Valley of the Loons and it hasn’t been significantly revised for over twenty years. It’s serious stuff. The plan is to cut the number of personality disorders in half — from 10 to only 5. Euphemistically, this means last week’s patient is next week’s eccentric or more succinctly, yesterday you suffered from narcissistic disorder; today, you’re a conceited jerk. On the brighter side, depression may become sad again, and anxiety might lighten up a little and just be worry. The problem these folks are facing is what is nuts and what is just odd? And there are heavy-duty ramifications. For example, although there’s something definitely wrong with Lindsay Lohan, Tiger Woods might not be a sex addict at all; he might just be horny. Regardless, the real live Fraser Cranes of the world are going to have to figure it out because the new DSM-5 goes to print in 2013, and they better have their disorders in order by then.
Speaking of nutbars, in a blatant attempt to grab some headlines, Kathy Witterick and David Stocker revealed to the Toronto Star that they would not reveal the gender of their four-month-old child, Storm. My first question is why did the Toronto Star want to know in the first place? Is the gender of nondescript babies hot news in Tee-oh, these days? Storm’s parents are calling it a “tribute to freedom and choice.” I’m calling it grandstanding — at the expense of an innocent kid. After all, if you want to keep your child’s gender a secret, the best thing to do is shut up. In point of fact, the last place you want to go with the news is the Toronto Star — circulation over two million. And that’s without all the other news outlets worldwide that picked up the story. With all this avoidable media attention, I’ve a real hard time believing Kathy and Dave are doing this for the good of the child. Personally, I think teaching kids that gender neutral is a good idea, is a good idea, but you can’t fool Mother Nature no matter how bright the media spotlight is.
Which brings us to the biggest media spotlight of them all – The Oprah Show. Young girls all over the world are breathing easier now that the long, cold night of Oprah Winfrey is finally over. They aren’t going to be told, day after day, that there’s something wrong with them: that they’re emotionally fragile, they’re stressed, they need to relax, they’re fat, ugly or abnormal. Under the thin guise of empowering women, Oprah has held a dark tyranny over her audience for decades. Day after day, she’s hammered home the idea that women have to change their lives. But now she’s gone, and younger girls everywhere will escape the omnipresent Oprah. They can quit reorganizing their lives and get on with living them. They can go to the spa because they like it, not because they need to relax. They can swim twice a week ‘cause it’s fun, not because they need to trim the tummy muscles and tighten the bum. In short, they don’t have the wicked Queen looking over their shoulder anymore. My only hope is that she doesn’t pull a Bret Favre and try to get back in the game. The ego explosion that was the last week of Oprah was enough to may you give some serious thought to that Apocalypse.
This was just one soon-to-be-forgotten week in the history of our world. Ain’t it fun? I guess I’m glad we did miss the Apocalypse – again!