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for March 2, 2005

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Cuts You Up
by Sean Carolan

I find I'm tickled whenever a media-pundit type, faced with a looming deadline and a blank page, tries to put two and two together and comes up with twenty-two. Especially when it's a voice of prudence - you know, the sort that turn inside out whenever someone mentions, say, Marilyn Manson. If you're gonna take a crack at Marilyn, do it for the right reasons (he's trying too hard) rather than for the wrong ones (he's a "bad influence".) Someday I hope to see a video of Alice Cooper giving Marilyn a condescending pat on the head.
(Incidentally, I also chuckle whenever an apoplectic morals jockey or outrage fetishist decries something in the movies, on the radio, or on TV that will send our nation's youth down the crapper. This is, of course, always a fine example of utter hogwash - today's youth, much like my own era's youth, is quite capable of finding its own way down the crapper, thank you very much.)
And so we come to Michelle Malkin, who apparently ran out of important things to talk about - like the idea that Japanese Americans, of which she is one, were rightly incarcerated during World War 2 - and turned her laser-like focus on that scourge of today's youth, "cutting", in which people use a razor to cut themselves, or have themselves cut by a pro, in interesting ways.
Wow. That was only the subject of a Spin Magazine article in, um, 1989 or so. And they were probably facing a looming deadline, too. I mean, I can't say it's my cup of tea, but if the people who do it think it's cool and nobody's getting (permanently) hurt, good on 'em.
(Here I'd like to note that, some day in the not-too-distant future, I fully expect one of my daughters to come home and try to cover up the fact that they're missing a limb. Or sporting an extra one. But I'll burn that bridge when I come to it.)
What's really great about Malkin's piece is that she cites this as a newly-"Hollywood"-driven trend, but cites Princess Diana as one of its practitioners. Not for nothing, there, Michele, but if Princess Di is setting this trend, she's one hell of a trendsetter. I wonder if Marilyn Monroe will pause from her busy schedule to launch a new variant of drum'n'bass anytime soon?
It gets better, though - here's a quote from her piece:
"There is even a new genre of music -- 'emo' -- associated with promoting the cutting culture."
I wonder if she's heard about the 'skiffle' groups that are making such a splash among the "now" people? Good thing she didn't hear about Johnny Cash covering "Hurt", or she'd be complaining about this new music - "country" - that promotes heroin use.
It appears that, in her attempt to assure people that she speaks the truth, she digs herself in deeper by citing New Brunswick's own The Apathy Code as "promoters" of the "fad". Um, hm. I hear Roger Waters was a big promoter of people drugging themselves into oblivion and rendering themselves insenitive to all external influence when he wrote "The Wall". Writing about destructive behavior is equivalent to promoting destructive behavior: check.
Well, it turns out that one Apathy Code song she cites, "No Alarms", is freely downloadable, and quite capable of convincing anyone who pauses to actually listen to it that it is not exactly positive on the subject of slitting one's wrists in the bathtub. The mood is a bit more like "it sucks that it's come to this", which is fair game, artistically. It's also way more listenable than John Ashcroft's magnum opus, "Let The Eagle Soar", but that's a cheap shot (but oh, so satisfying.)
Let's pause here to note that there might be a trendlet in "cutting" for trendiness' sake, but that it's as likely to cause irreparable harm as a piercing. (Standard concerns for anything that draws blood apply.) Let's also note that some people do self-mutilate, possibly even to appear tough, and that it's a self-destructive tendency that they might want to get help with if they recognize that they need it.
But ultimately, we've gotta say this: congratulations to The Apathy Code! Nobody ever heard of The Mentors before Tipper Gore's PMRC put their lyrics in front of Congress and the American public, and they sold a pile of records to the curious soon afterward. The Apathy Code have now been launched onto the global stage simply because they took a symptom of depression and made music around it; to them I say mazel tov and godspeed!
So let's review:
Cutters: Need help, if they're interested in finding it. May also need Neosporin.
Trendster cutters: Just need the Neosporin.
Emo: focuses on depression. People who habitually cut themselves are depressed. So, um, why not?
Right-Wing Pundit Michelle Malkin: Blissfully clue-free. And achingly in synch with Tipper Gore. (That, more than anything else, will be her prime embarrassment.)

©2005 Sean Carolan

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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