Monday, December 18, 2006

My Sacheen Littlefeather Moment

(Lots of stuff to get to, but posting will probably be sporadic – I’ll do my best.)

To explain the title of this post, I should recall that Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1973 for “The Godfather,” and instead of appearing to accept the award himself, she appeared onstage, stating that Brando was declining the Oscar because of this country’s treatment of native Americans (of course, as far as I’m concerned, “Dances With Wolves” by Kevin Costner ended up accomplishing at least as much on that score cinematically as anything Brando ever did).

(Also, I realize that what I just mentioned is pretty much burned into our cultural consciousness, along with the fact that actor John Wayne had to be restrained backstage at the time from going out and choking her; that’s the legend anyway.)

So why exactly am I bringing all of this up?

Well, as many of us know, Time Magazine’s collective Person Of The Year, as announced over the weekend, is “you,” as in, you and me and anyone else who “seized the reins of the global media.”

I would actually laugh at this if it weren’t so utterly pathetic. It sounds like we're awarding ourselves for very little in an almost masturbatory act of self-gratification.

I don’t consider “seizing the reins of the global media” to be something that is particularly memorable, and I don’t consider what I do to be a particularly earth-shattering accomplishment. I know that there are people who visit this site and indulge me with their time, and to one and all, you have my great thanks for that. However, I would be truly deluding myself if I thought that what I was doing was particularly memorable or leaving some kind of indelible impression on anyone.

As nearly as I can recall, Time’s standard for this award is “the person who made the most impact over the prior year” or something. This also is part of their criteria apparently, as noted by Time’s managing editor Richard Stengel…

"If you choose an individual, you have to justify how that person affected millions of people. But if you choose millions of people, you don't have to justify it to anyone."
I would like to think that, were he with us now, Edward R. Murrow would give Stengel the dressing down of his life for that statement.

Well, much like Sacheen Littlefeather did 33 years ago, I will decline this award with gratitude and dedicate it to someone else (I think she showed a little gratitude, as I recall).

I hereby dedicate my tiny portion of the “Person Of The Year” Award to the 3,000th American casualty in Iraq (and, by association, all of our service personnel).

Of course, I hope and pray that we don’t see that; I hope and pray we don’t see any more casualties, in particular American ones, but I felt that way when we neared the 2,000 mark, and we blew right past that milestone unfortunately.

And with our politicians crying for more troops to get thrown into this nightmare (including the reluctant-sounding Sen. Harry Reid – scratching my head a bit over that, actually - who, along with Nancy Pelosi, can do nothing without being over-analyzed about fifty different ways), I think it’s only a matter of time before we reach that number.

I cannot help but feel that, except for the immediate friends and family of our troops, as well as our troops themselves, this war continues to be largely invisible to this country. I really cannot find the correct words to communicate my utter loathing and disgust with the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd who continue to publicly advocate sacrificing more of our men and women in the name of the unholy enterprise known as the Iraq war (I know I continually try to find the words, but I continually feel like I fail each time I do).

And by the way, kudos on that score to Bill Richardson of New Mexico for calling out John McCain, the supposed “straight talker” and “maverick”…I won’t say much more about McCain for now because the childish media narrative whereby they report every real or imagined flaw among Democrats/liberals/progressives while magnifying every real or imagined virtue of Republicans/conservatives – mostly the latter – is the subject of another rant. And I would give Colin Powell more credit for telling the truth except for the fact that he’s doing it way too late to make a difference.

Our young men and women in uniform expect us to truly support them, and many of us do as our means allow. And I think Time should have recognized them and their contribution as people who certainly make a difference and continue to do so.

We bloggers, whatever our “hit count” or level of recognition may be (as well as others at community networking sites or other individuals cited by Time), type these words and send them out into cyberspace and make a contribution of some type, I’ll acknowledge that. But often it is intangible, not something measurable or verifiable.

However, our military are shedding blood and limbs in real time, suffering in very measurable ways either physically or psychologically. And for Time or any other corporate media publication to ignore them at their own narcissistic expense (and ours, to an extent) is an almost unspeakable travesty.

Update 1/1/2007: I think the fact that we reached this awful milestone on New Year's Day is particularly grotesque.

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