Glenn Beck, Guinness, Levis and violence

Vampire Woman

Today, trapped as I sometimes am, by the flow of the day’s news online, I looked at the fluff  my AOL page calls news.  Of course some of the content is tailored to suit my tastes, tracking as they do my clicks – so I suppose I should be embarrassed by some of the stuff that appears.  Today, I was not embarrassed, I was shocked – two sets of story-lines did it.  The first was the release of the Guinness World Records for 2012 this week.  For the last couple of days AOL has been eager to cater to my taste for the bizarre by showing me photos and videos of the tallest, shortest, fattest people and animals on the planet and for good measure a lizard-man and vampire-woman.  The lizard guy was featured yesterday, not because he held a world record, although he might, but because he was being immortalized in wax.   At some point in his life, the man started to alter his appearance, attempting to make himself look as much like a reptile as possible.  In a way I can understand the impulse to create a work of art, to play a part and even to shock innocent bystanders – I have been guilty of all three in my life and more than once.

However, tattooing in general bother me; tattoos make permanent some temporary fad or passing fancy.  Much as if I was forced to wearing the same stylized “uniform” clothes I wore when I was 15 years old.  I would be frozen in time, I could never change my “look” and wear anything different, ever in my whole life, not to meet the president, not to go to my mother’s funeral or my granddaughter’s wedding.   It is not that I object to the fads themselves, but become fads are prisons when they are permanent.  The vampire woman was even more extreme than the lizard – she, too was being immortalized in wax by Guinness.  The woman had more than brightly colored ink covering her body – besides the tattoos. she had pierced her body in dozens of places, implanted bumps and horns on her head, arms and legs and added long vampire teeth to complete the picture.  She says it was all in reaction to an abusive husband and her desire to be a warrior and to show her children that she was a strong and defiant woman.  Boy, am I glad my mother did not decide to be a defiant warrior.

The other story-line was more shocking, not so much visually as in its implication for our society.  It was shocking on two levels; first because I found myself agreeing with Glenn Beck.  Normally I do not read, watch or listen to anything attributed to the right-wing television or radio personalities.  I used to listed to Rush a few minutes every week just to keep up with his line of thought, especially when a major story broke.  But in the last two years American politics has become so polarized that I make a serious effort to read factual stories only and avoid the interpretive reporting by both the right and left.  Today, however, I did read about the advertisement that caused Mr. Beck to say he would never again buy anything produced or sold by the Levis-Strauss company.  What could they have done, I wondered?

I like Levis, in fact they were part of that uniform I wore when I was 15, altered greatly and worn differently, but Levis never-the-less.  I was prepared to be annoyed by his bigoted opinions on nudity or models that were not white or traditional or some imagined political statement.  But, what I was not prepared for was the actual television commercial and my own ensuing political opinion – suddenly I was sitting in the same corner with Glenn.  There were two commercials, one was a bit edgy, but not more; the other was more than edgy.  It paired Levis wearing young people with social turmoil, violence – including killing – and the flames of revolution.  It glorified not social protest and political discontent, but violence and disrespect for life.

In a world which is torn apart constantly by wars, suicide bombers and violent crime, to suggest that smart, trendy young people should be wearing Levis and killing in the streets truly shocked me.  And like Beck, leaves me with one conclusion, if those values, wearing Levis and killing go together and I don’t endorse one I cannot endorse the other.  But more frightening is the idea of commercializing violence – using violence to sell a product.  Levis are just pants, they bring with them not moral superiority, intelligence or creativity – they just cover the lower part of a person and protect from one from the cold.   I may not approve of the lizards and vampires, but they are only doing violence to their own bodies – not to the body of society as Levis proposes.


1 Response to “Glenn Beck, Guinness, Levis and violence”

  1. 1 rexdstock1 September 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Kenny, this is a beautifully woven piece. I’m glad my mother was not a warrior either.

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