Monday, February 05, 2007

Cartoon Carnage

Maybe I'm just a little 'old school' but doesn't a tough talking American city being brought to a shutdown by cartoon characters mean the terrorists have won? Absolutely and totally, our fearful and skittish society can see threats in anything, and our 24/7 rumour-as-media only helps spread the incitement. Yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre, indeed.

This matter was of course the subject of grand debate for three running nights at that most philosophical of venues: the burrito stand kitchen, and many varied opinions were represented, and forced to realize the ugly truth that, in the post-9/11 world, our worst and most hypochondriac characteristics are able to overwhelm reason and wit and intelligence in the most spectacular fashion - on the air during a slow news day.

A plauge on all our houses.

First of all, the perpetrators. Forget the "post-9/11 world," in the age of "Jackass, "Jackass 2," "Punk'd" and "Kevin Federline," there is now far, far too much market and employment capability for people who should be smoking dope, eating cheetos and sitting on a couch. They're not bathing, they're shutting down American cities, they're jumping down courthouse staircases, and they're laughing at us all the way to the bank. I'm getting sick of this nonsense, and I was sick of it back when all the people my age were introduced to a guy named "Puck" on The Real World: Los Angeles. These kinds of folks should be asking you, "would you like fries with that?" but instead they're making money 'guerilla marketing' substandard cartoon products that appeal mainly to people who smoke dope, eat cheetos and sit on couches. They only gain their 'rebel credibility' because older, more stuck up people hate them, and call them terrorists. Please do not feed the trolls, stop pointing at them, and please bring back real rebels with talent.

SAWB, it is time to start that metal band, and groom legions of fans to kick the asses of people like this.

Boston. So much for all that tough attitude, fellas. Do you realize what you've done? Get ready to see light brites at every Red Sox away game, 'cause if Chicago fans were tellin' the Who Dat? nation to go back to New Orleans and drown, New York is not going to let you guys slide on this one. The rest of us out here in the rest of America's cities are now going to have to deal with a legion of copycats trying to make their own art bomb statement. Like we needed more of that, especially with our own governments incapable of dealing with real problems. Thanks a million or two.

I mean, I want to hear the real story. What? Philly, New York, LA and dem have the cartoons up in their city and no one cares, but some little old lady in Cambridge gets offended at a children's toy flicking her off and calls in the bomb squad? And the first response is to think: wow I've seen a lot of these around, let's shut the whole city down and call a press conference?

'Cause you knew it was a slow news day anyway, and the American media is about as loud and as accurate about breaking news as a rat terrier drinking Volt and smoking crack.

Add to that the indignation later displayed by your public officials. I know you don't normally act like this, Boston, I know you have thicker skin. Y'all are the tough guys, with Pittsburgh and Chicago and Brooklyn, but your security officials are standing there talking about how bad two townies scared them with a pile of toys.

From a security standpoint, this is a nightmare. Two concept artists fouled up security in a major American city for a day. Let's view the failures.

1. These "suspicious, bomb-looking devices" were up in other big cities, and no one took notice. Now, all the terrorists have to do is mask their evil plots behind obscure Girl Scout t-shirts, bad emo band logos, and petchouli and we'll never, ever see the next one coming. Great. All I needed was to stay awake at night dreading the 'Sifl and Ollie Sock-n-Awe' campaign.

This is double compounded by the fact that almost any electronic device can look like a bomb, and that these particular devices were designed to call attention to themselves. So we have a dog-walker on the high and the low failure.

2. Once someone did notice the "suspicious, bomb-looking device-specifically-designed-to-call-attention-to-itself," they hit the mass hysteria button, loudly. In fighting the war on terror, the idea is to be vigilant, not stupid. Call some authorities over so those authorities can investigate, appraise the situation and react accordingly. The idea is not to call the authorities and then call CNN, so the authorities (or whoever is in the authority organizations who gets the call from Wolf Blitzer asking about the terrorist attack) can't investigate properly while fielding phone calls from all superiors, family members, media hounds and other hysterical citizens now fearing Osama bin Laden is hiding downstairs in their basement.

3. As far as the authorities are concerned, I don't know how I would react if I suddenly realized that, quietly, someone had slipped a dozen or so 'bomb looking devices' into important areas in a major American city. Maybe I'd try to have it done quietly as possible, 'there's nothing to see here' style, and try to get a better idea of what we were dealing with. Maybe I'd do the same thing Boston did, and shut the whole party down as quickly and as efficiently as possible, costs be damned, security first. I wasn't there, responding to imminent threats, so I can't make that call.

I do know that afterwards, I'd just be thankful this wasn't a real attack, and if the folks responsible didn't intend to provoke a threatened response, I'd let it go, and itemize it as training in the ledger. So many things can be seen as threatening these days, it boggles the mind. If we plan to adhere to our current state of near hysteria, there are going to be some false alarms, and we're going to have to deal with that. We can't just become boring-land because we're living in the "post-9/11 world" because we don't know what our neighbor is going to think is a bomb.

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