Monday, February 05, 2007

Reality, fiction and football

SEEING THAT TRUTH is stranger than fiction, I tend not to spend much time on the latter any more. But in its own way fiction still can be powerful. Right now I'm starting Bukowski's Factotum, which I should've read long ago. (Partner in grime Annabelle dumps books on me as if I had nothing to do but read books -- which would be nice.)

Bukowski wastes no time in this novel. By the time you get to the bottom of page one -- and it's only a half-page -- you've already got great descriptive writing, you've got man vs. the elements, you've got poverty and down-at-the-heelness, you've got a bit of mystery about who's this protagonist and where's he going and why he's in this situation -- and most intriguing, you've already got sexual tension. Interracial sexual tension, at that.

If you're gonna write a story, you may as well start with a bang, I mused while reading.

The Bears started out with a bang last night. It turns out, though, that they only had a couple of rounds in the chamber.

THE AIR FORCE is aggressively hunting new bomb fodder with the help of commercials run during the Super Bowl and on MTV. They're all about action, speed, excitement, boys playing with cool toys and enjoying teamwork and manly camaraderie and the self-realization of belonging to something bigger than oneself. War as a kind of extreme sport.

Of course, these exciting, adrenaline- and testosterone-releasing images and messages are the stock-in-trade of military recruitment ads. And such techniques are common to advertising in general, which works on the emotions rather than logic and usually hypes the positive while omitting the negative. So is the USAF being an exceptional liar? By one standard, perhaps not.

But to bring a sense of perspective to it, one might argue that the higher the stakes involved, the less defensible the lie. Most ads, fundamentally dishonest though they may be, aren't selling you a product that inherently includes the risk of getting your arms, legs, face or man parts blown off, or getting turned into flame-broiled hamburger -- or having to do the same to other men, women and children you've never met and in most cases will never even see. Or perhaps taking part in "domestic surveillance" against fellow Americans. Seems to me that military recruitment ads ought to be required to provide, oh, I don't know, maybe just a smidgen of actual reality?

Even MTV has "The Real World." When are we going to see "The Real World: Iraq"?

Speaking of which, I salute this guy for exhibiting a kind of bravery they don't seem to teach in the military.

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