Friday, July 8, 2011

Train Wrecks

A fan fell to his death in Texas. I watched the video on YouTube. A few times. I'm such a sick bastard. I've also watched the video of that dude the song "Hey Man Nice Shot" was based on...some politician that blew his brains out on live television. I imagine the JFK assassination is one of the most watched videos of all time. So, why? Is it that "at least it wasn't me" feeling we get when we laugh at someone that just tripped and fell down the stairs? I thought about it, and then gave up. I don't know. But I can't stop looking at this shit, even if I regret it afterward.

When I was about seventeen I went to this party. There were like twenty or thirty of us crammed into this small living room in a "not-so-nice" part of town. There was a special room for the kids who were smoking "tree," which I avoided because I was such a goody goody. Anyhow, what happened is my friend Pat brought this video simply called "Sick." He explained it as a compilation of scenes from the most twisted scenes he or his cousin or somebody could pluck out of various pornos. We're talking some sick shit. We're talking a man screwing the body cavity of a frozen turkey, girls stuffing immense eels up their unmentionables--that's right, I said eels--guys with sheep, girls blowing dogs, you name it. And you know what, every single one of us watched this, laughing our asses off, trying to one-up each other with the best pun. We talked about it for months. A whole group of friends watched this with joy--not that we were turned on, but we had fun with it--and most people individually would never even admit to knowing such things could happen let alone watch it happen. Awesome.

How many times have you watched the video of 9/11? How many specials and documentaries have you watched on that horrible day? There's been three movies that I know of. It's started working its way into fiction. It's even been used as a small, off-hand plot point in movies. We're obsessed. Slipknot has a song called "Disasterpiece," and I think that might be the best way to describe these events in our lives that we obsess over but all agree are terrible. As far as creating a terrible tragedy, these shocking moments are the masterpieces. So perfectly awful, we can't help but gawk.

I'm currently reading Murakami's "Coin Locker Babies." Boy did this guy get that. Maybe it's just Japan in the eighties got it, who knows. But from the first paragraph, we're seeing things we just don't even want to acknowledge exist. And it's told so naturally, as if these things happen every day. Well, they probably do, folks. Sad but true. The book even goes as far to make a comment about this phenomenon of which I speak. Murakami predicts reality televsion by having a man blow his own mother's face off in front of live television cameras. The result, his brother's album skyrockets on the charts and sells like there's no tomorrow. We love this shit.

I'm trying to capture that obsession with what we see in these train-wreck, rubber-necker moments in my new book. The only thing is, when we see these snippets in the media, we rarely know the whole story. Murakami shows that nicely in his book. We gawk at the guy that fell to his death at a baseball game, but do we even think about his family, what else he does. We will, someday when someone writes a feature about him or more likely there's a ninety second clip on Sports Center. But while he's falling, do we wonder what he was thinking, if he was trying to land safely, or if he was just flailing in a blind panic? What a terrible moment. And don't get me wrong, I'm just as bad. I watched it three times. From different angles.

My book will try to explore the real world behind the headline-driven media of today. Think the media's obsession with pinning Columbine on the video game and music industries. There's always more than meets the eye. In order to see anything, you logically have to be missing something else. There's always something behind what you're seeing. Who's to say which is more important. I'm excited about this book. I'm excited about the story behind the story. Keep gawking!

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