Because You Can't, You Won't, and You Don't Stop

Pepsi has suspended its ads featuring pop star Britney Spears because of the perception that they are too frivolous for the nation's somber mood.

The video-rental giant Blockbuster has announced that it is going to start labeling new movies that have terrorist themes as a service to customers in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The first film to receive the tag will be the Warner Bros. action thriller Swordfish, which hits video stores October 30. The film stars John Travolta as a master spy hired by the CIA who coerces a computer hacker into helping him steal billions in unused government funds to finance a covert war against international terrorism. A placard placed below the rental will read: "In light of the events of September 11, please note this product contains scenes that may be considered disturbing to some viewers."

Clear Channel, the nation's largest radio conglomerate, reacted to the attacks by circulating a list of 150 songs that it strongly recommended its 1,200 radio stations not play. The "logic" behind this pseudo-mandate is that the included songs are insensitive or subversive. Included on the list are such infamously dangerous songs as Lenny Kravitz's "Fly Away," the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian," Sugar Ray's "Fly," Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and that terrorist favorite, "Imagine" by John Lennon.

Said Bill Maher on the September 17 episode of his late-night talk show Politically Incorrect: "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly." Maher's comments prompted significant public outrage and calls on advertisers to boycott the program. Sears and FedEx heeded those calls. Several of the stations that normally carry Maher's show pulled it from the air, at least temporarily. Although Maher has publicly apologized to those viewers he may have offended, the backlash won't go away, with several midmarket ABC affiliates still not airing the program and even the White House suggesting that the late-night host is no different from people who utter intolerant statements about American Arabs in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, wearing one of her trademark gowns with plunging neckline and low-cut back, married dancer and choreographer Cris Judd Saturday night in Los Angeles.

[pause]

Watching Bill Maher on Leno, cowed, nervous, and apologizing profusely, I had to wonder where American civil liberties went. Did I hear the same comments that everybody else did? Because if I heard correctly, Maher simply regurgitated the awful truth. Hey, I think Maher is an obnoxious asshole too, but at least he's informed and put things in perspective. Where was the national indignation when just five days earlier, good ol' Jerry Falwell remarked on television: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians…the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'" If anything, Falwell's comments are the egregious ones, and he was let off the hook with a generic apology.

The word of the day is "overreaction." I myself was a victim of the overreaction to Columbine and am tired of seeing a nation continually up in arms over silly issues like kids imitating cartoons. I blame it all on stupid people, the WASPy fuck-ups and talk radio personalities who don't have the common sense to distinguish between fact and fiction, right and wrong, and as a result, perpetuate unnecessary fear, thus lowering the standard of living in America. How are we, as a country, ever gonna return to normalcy if every time somebody wants to see Halle Berry's tits, they are reminded of September 11? Sensitivity, schmensitivity.

I read in our school paper today that one writer "can't watch Die Hard anymore" and that soon enough, "songs like 'It's the End of the World as We Know It' and 'Another One Bites the Dust' will make their way back on the air" unless Americans refuse to let their callousness grow back. So are we all supposed to watch chick flicks and listen to Tori Amos from now on? Give me a fucking break. Just because a handful of Muslim religious fanatics flew into a building doesn't mean that every Muslim is a religious fanatic who likes to fly into buildings. Similarly, just because a handful of touchy-feely types suffer total breakdowns at the sight of now-decimated buildings doesn't mean that the rest of us can't move on and indulge in watching aliens blow up the White House. I'm done paying my respects. Enough is enough.

[sigh] War or not, the American cultural climate will always reflect those immortal words of Radiohead:

You do it to yourself, you do
And that's what really hurts
Is that you do it to yourself
Just you, you and no one else
You do it to yourself
YOU DO IT TO YOURSELF

Obligatory aegis to Howard for inspiring this post.

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