The Sunday Edition: The West Wing, Desensitization, The Big Short

j_annoyedj_annoyed I’m certain I’ve mentioned this before but I’m a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin and the West Wing. And if you’re interested, there’s actually a West Wing Podcast which goes through all of the episodes with special guest stars from the show that come on and offer commentary. Lot’s of fun… If you’re a giant nerd. Like myself. Anywho, I re-watch the series probably once a year and despite how much I love it there’s a story-line that more and more every year throws me off and upsets me. This is the end of the first season and the beginning of the second. After having a really crappy first year and a bit in office, Bartlet decides that he is going to start kicking ass and taking names all building up to the season finale where a group of skin heads decides to try to gun down the President’s daughter’s boyfriend, but hits a bunch of other people including the President and Josh. What bothers me more now is in the early episodes of season 2 they realize that public opinion has shifted grossly in favor of the President, with a practically unprecedented approval rating… But they decide not to use those approval ratings to their advantage.

Many issues are on the floor at the point of course. Hate groups, gun control, other ancillary issues… but they don’t want to appear callous in the face of the support, something that almost every politician is doing right now in the face of the Las Vegas mass shooting. People on the 2nd Amendment side of things watch hawkishly for anyone on the left even hinting at talking about gun regulation, and the moment they smell blood scream “YOU’RE POLITICIZING A TRAGEDY! SO AWFUL!” So politicians wait longer and longer… and sadly enough people just stop caring.
We’re desensitized to it now. I mean, we’re desensitized to a lot of things now which is amazingly weird. I would never, ever, have thought that we would ever come to a point in Western Society where some of us would end up defending Nazis… But that’s a thing we’re doing now. Even a much beloved video game franchise which was entirely built around killing Nazis is taking flack.

For killing Nazis. Nazis. The universal evil trope. The, like, standardized and most obvious villain… But there it is. And not only are we entirely desensitized to killing Nazis, it seems we’re also entirely desensitized to the mass amounts of death going on in the US. And I do mean mass. Last year the US averaged more than one mass shooting a day. This year, they’re on track to do the same, or close to it. And I remember when Sandy Hook happened (also a lot of REALLY DUMB conspiracies around that one which are just as cringe worthy) and I remember thinking then; “This is it. This is when we finally stop with this thoughts and prayers bullshit and things get done.” I mean, Dead kids, right? Everyone wants to defend or avenge kids! They’re kids! It’s sad that 20 dead kids is what it took for change, but we will see change..

20. Dead. Kids.

Nothing. No regulation, no grand debate, no study as to why people are slaughtering each other wholesale in the United States (because legally, the CDC is barred from studying gun violence. No seriously, it’s a thing). Nothing. Not a single thing was done. Children died and the closest we got to a conversation was about how maybe mentally ill people shouldn’t be allowed to have access to firearms. Fast forward a few years and there’s a much more renewed and vigorous conversation about gun control because of the Vegas Shooting and what I would say to the people who are now back to talking about this:

  1. There have been 9 more mass shootings in 6 days since Vegas including 10 dead and 29 injured
  2. You’re wasting your fucking time.

20 dead children could not shake either US politicians or the US Citizen out of apathy, and the Vegas shooting? Combine any four other months together this year and you will have a greater amount of dead and equivalent amount of injured.

I am reminded at this point of the ending to the movie The Big Short. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It was on Netflix in Canada for a while so I’m not sure where you’ll have to go now. At the end of the movie which discusses the financial crash, one of our protagonists has a bit of a breakdown. I mean all the protagonists had one because all of them KNEW that the crash was coming and all of them tried desperately to warn people that it was coming with precisely no one listening. Anyway, Ryan Gosling does a clever bit at the end where he tells you exactly what you think should have happened; he says that people went to jail, there was a big overhaul of the system, that companies were forced to stop gambling with peoples’ savings… And then the glass shatters and you are told that despite all the lives that were ruined due to criminal neglegence…

Nothing changes.

– Have a good’er