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Impermanent Jest

What is Rox Populi? | Archived Columns

Frans Hals, Young Man with a Skull (Vanitas). c1626-28Posted: April 26, 2003

By Christopher Roberts

We're all afraid of something. Take my little nephew, for instance. He's afraid of skeletons. He thinks they live in closets and under beds, and at night they come out to get you when you're asleep. And what am I afraid of? Now, I'm afraid of skeletons.

--Jack Handy

Ah yes, Jack Handy, you strike at the heart of my angst. After being incessantly bombarded with news stories about the Dixie Chicks, Tim Robbins, Michael Moore and other Hollywood deep thinkers, I have developed a fear. I fear that normal people are starting to become far too obsessed with what irrelevant people have to say about relevant topics. Should the Dixie Chicks have said they were "ashamed" that George W. Bush is from Texas? Are they patriots for questioning authority? Should we be outraged? Should we call them traitors? All of these queries may make for nice water cooler conversation, but there is a far more important question that few have asked and none have answered. Who f-----g cares?

I'm all for spirited debate. The purpose here is not to be "pro-Bush" or "anti-Bush." Rather, the purpose is to recognize that first, an increasingly large number of people have an increasingly larger amount to say about very important topics. Still, this is not the problem. Free speech is a wonderful thing. However, (as an example) do I really need to find out what the Wu Tang Clan has to say about the crisis on the Korean peninsula before I can form my opinion? Or if they say something I disagree with, should I care? The answer to both questions, of course, is no.

The heart of the issue, then, is this: There is a very homogenous approach to politics in the entertainment industry. Focus on the last two words of the previous sentence while you ponder the excerpt from Hamlet below:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your
gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar?

You know why Hamlet holds the skull of Yorick and pauses with regret? It's not because Yorick was a counselor to the King. It's not because Yorick was the bravest warrior. It's because Yorick was a jester. A f-----g clown. He entertained. He was great at juggling and quick with a limerick. If Yorick told the king, "Look, your Kingliness, I got a bad vibe about our military strategy", he would have been told to shut up, don his jester's hat, and start making people laugh. Today however, the Yoricks of the world have attained a level of self-delusion that makes them believe that they are more important than they are: that they can see what the masses cannot, and think for those of us who, if left to our own devices, will be brainwashed by the powers that be. Remember, when Tim Robbins says something you don't agree with, lighten up. He's an actor. When the Dixie Chicks put their collective foot in their collective mouth and insult the President, don't worry about it. They're musicians. They're all just dancing monkeys there for our entertainment. When they cease to entertain you, ignore them. Should they be able to express their thoughts as individuals? Absolutely. Should their ideas be given more consideration because of who they are? No. Quite the opposite: You should excuse their opinions because of who they are.

So remember, the next time there's a hot political debate brewing and you discover that P. Diddy doesn't agree with you, take a deep breath. Settle down. It's not Donald Rumsfeld. It's just P. Diddy.

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