Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Rankist Generosity

As the aftermath of the tsunami continues to play out, Stalin's famous quote about a million deaths being a statistic while a single death is a tragedy couldn't be more true. The over-riding sentiment that seems to be attached to most stories is the rankist element that is part of any comment on individual or government sponsored contributions to the relief effort. There are also the accompanying desperate efforts to conjure up language that will express the feelings of shared grief but they just seem to...fall a bit flat.

What is tangible are the insinuations and outright scolding heaped on various nations and entertainment and sports superstars who haven't ponied up what is perceived to be an adequate amount. Those assertions crackle, are real, are something we can really associate with.

The one-upsmanship from various governments around the world can't help but be beneficial as the real amount of aid continues to increase. A closer look reveals that many strings are attached to various pledges. These dazzling promises and high figures may in part be based on low-interest loans and might well not materialize in full.

Donations made by various stars and duly advertised may also have ulterior motives, including an enhanced public image. Again, if the end result is more assistance, then it's great to see every overpaid thespian and steroid bloated pro athlete run scurrying to make a donation prior to their next interview so they can let the true figure roll off their tongue in a nonchalant way and appear genuinely moved.

Woe is the fool like Paradorn Srichiphan, a wealthy Thai tennis star, who made such a pathetically sniveling donation (10, 000 baht , about 250 US dollars) in comparison to his earnings, that he will most certainly pay for it in a real monetary way. The 10, 000 US he could have easily given will be eclipsed by the income loss he is sure to suffer as a result of this huge PR disaster.

Argue the rightness or wrongness of goading wealthy individuals into coughing up, but the fact is that failing to see in advance that this expectation was developing, means that a fool like Paradorn is ill-equipped to deal with all aspects of celebrity status. Such stars occupy an unreal position, are paid unreal amounts and thus are expected to demonstrate unreal and exaggerated displays of generosity. These individuals are given a great deal of leeway by most of the adoring and sycophantic public and an image of benevolence will solidify their standing. Come across as an ungrateful cunt and the public will happily join in as the media hammers them into remorse and humiliation.

Part of the whole post-disaster posturing is a sociological study in group-think. Is it a spontaneous outpouring and world-wide reaction or can people be routed into pre-existing emotional gatherings that they can latch onto? Is "the media" a sentient force that dictates our reactions or simply a reflection of our collective feelings?

Quite often humans do have the power to dictate how others will respond in any given situation. For example, in the case of a man trying to seduce a woman. Most fools recognize that females are the half of humanity who give off signals and indicate whether they are in any way interested in the attentions of a particular slob. Still, any tit who maneuvers into the position of being alone with a tart should realize that he holds the license for the negation of the woman's inhibition. All he has to do is issue the license and eliminate any simpering gestures of hesitation or that sickening coyness that some assholes from western nations exhibit around women. Avoid any behaviour that hints at and lets a woman buy into that contrived image of a pure virginal chastity and she will instead opt for that which she really longs for. To be stapled to the mattress with a rigorous and energetic shag.

The world-wide reaction to the tsunami disaster is most striking then, as compared to the response towards the slaughter that continues in Iraq. As succinctly pointed out and asked by Terry Jones (the same member of the Monty Python comedy troupe) in a commentary in the Guardian; what has contributed to such vastly different amounts of attention and monetary aid despite the similar toll in lives? Is it the sudden ferocity of the tsunami? The instant destruction? The belief that perhaps we could have been victims if we had vacationed at a different time and maybe, just maybe those foreign cunts with the strange culture and guttural language in Iraq might just have deserved what they got if only a tiny bit? The lack of media coverage (surely)?

Speaking of Iraq, the Guardian continues to demonstrate why it is the top online newspaper bar none with this account from an Iraqi film-maker in the days after the much touted route of Fallujah by US forces back in November. A bleak, macabre landscape greeted him, soaked with misery, desperation and rage. Most noticeably he asks, where are all the bodies of the insurgents the yanks claimed to have killed? He also guarantees that a civil war will kick-off in the very near future.

Maybe any amount of assistance for Iraq would open our eyes to just how horrific things are there at the moment and would highlight our own culpability in the massacre. Comparatively, our spontaneous and generous outpouring towards the countries affected by the tsunami strengthens our image of a world full of caring and just souls in which we all play an important role.