Wednesday, January 14, 2015

You Are Not Charlie

Three thoughts today that have come to bother me lately.

(1) Je suis Charlie. You may have noticed dozens of celebrities lately wearing buttons or designer t-shirts with the French phrase “Je suis Charlie” upon them. Translated, this phrase means: I am Charlie. And the idea in wearing this phrase is to show the world that the wearing celebrity supports the French newspaper and its staff who were brutally assassinated by Islamic extremists last week. This bothers me. Why?

Because there is an intense egotistical, self-centeredness to this phrase, which lets the wearer inject themselves into the event in a way that never happened. Indeed, rather than just stating their support for one side or the other, this phrase goes further and suggests that the attack was an attack on the celebrity themselves... as if this had been an issue dear to the heart of the celebrity and that they themselves were involved in it to such a degree that they too share the same or similar danger/risk as the victims because of their pursuit of this cause.

Yet, this is bunk. These celebrities never were involved in this issue. They weren’t there on that fateful date. They never supported this newspaper or its mission publicly before this. They never once showed an ounce of courage against these killers. They never even took their own opportunities to make bold statements of a similar nature – to the contrary, these cowardly celebrities typically condemned the paper and others like it for being “provocative” to Islam. But suddenly, through the wearing of the one button, they are not only claiming that they support Charlie’s mission, but that they are part of it. Bullsh*t.

Even worse, many of these cowards are calling each other “brave” for taking this very easy stand.

Now, I know that some of you are thinking that I’m splitting hairs, but this really does bother me. It is one thing to state support, it is quite another to claim a similar status. Indeed, consider this: if a mother loses a child, would it be appropriate for me to wear a button saying this was my child too or does that not seem that I am injecting myself too personally into something where I have no right to claim to speak for that level of intimacy with the event. And then to act that this is brave when the celebrity has done nothing more than wear a mass produced button shows a blindness to the difference between taking a stand and cynically wanting the world to think you took a stand.

Further, there has been a fascinating related story making the rounds. Lots of liberals are suddenly upset at a new McDonald’s commercial in which the company shows sign after sign where franchises put up signs of support for various tragedies and outrages, everything from the simple “We support our troops” to well wishes for Katrina victims to signs related to 9/11. These liberals are upset that McDonalds is “exploiting” these events to sell products. Yet, at the same time, they think it’s brave for their fellow actors to wear “Je suis Charlie” signs to up their publicity quotient, even as they have never once done anything to defend freedom of speech or freedom of worship against Islamic extremism.

How hypocritical is that? McDonalds actually puts its money where its mouth is by donating money, goods and time, by letting soldiers eat free, through the Ronald McDonald House, etc. These celebrities by comparison have done nothing... or have even been on the wrong side. How twisted is it to see the fake and false “Je suis Charlie” button as courageous, but then to condemn the McDonald’s commercial as exploitive. That’s bunk.

(2) Raising Breast Cancer Awareness. A similar issue involves the delusional, self-centered idea of “raising awareness” of breast cancer (or other causes). Millions of people get together each year to do things they enjoy, like holding dinners or participating in charity walks, and they do them in the name of “raising awareness” so that they feel they have done something special. But they haven’t.

Seriously, is there anyone who needs their awareness of breast cancer or AIDS or homelessness raised? Does anyone not know what these things are? And if there is, will some schlub walking through a park actually give them the knowledge they are missing? Hardly.

Sometimes these events are connected to fundraising, which is a valid (i.e. useful) form of charity, but many are not. Many simply traffic in the delusional idea that the participant has done something worthy of praise merely by seeking to “raise awareness.” This is pathetic. It is again this self-centered impulse to inject oneself into a tragedy and to demand praise for working to solve the problem, when the reality is that all the person did was wear a ribbon or button that changed nothing. It is pure arrogance to draw attention to yourself as somehow having worked to fix something when all you did was have a good time which resulted in zero positive effects toward solving the problem.

(3) Carving Trees Is Not Cool. Finally, in a related note, there is a commercial that just makes my hypocrisy radar explode. The entire premise of the commercial is about two people going into the woods to find a tree upon which they carved their initials when they first fell in love. The idea is to revel in how cute and romantic a gesture this is and how happy it makes them to revisit what they did years later... as they enjoy the product (some granola snack) of course.

What bugs me here is that at the bottom of the screen, these good liberals commercial makers write the following: “Carving trees is not cool.”

See why I’m annoyed? Here you have liberals lecturing us that we should not be carving anything into trees because that is morally wrong. Yet, at the same time, they are using the romanticism of carving your initials into a tree to sell their product. This is just like Hollywood telling us that guns are evil but then using gun violence to sell their films... or claiming to support freedom of expression against Islamic terrorism when the same people will turn around and lecture us on being “provocative” by using that freedom of speech... or condemning McDonalds for showing its signs of support while calling celebrities brave for wearing buttons that serve the exact same purpose as those McDonald’s signs.



Kit said...

The recent events taught me an important lesson:

"Je suis" means "I am".

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Yep.

Koshcat said...

Je suis nausee

AndrewPrice said...

Bravo! LOL!

Of course, you have to admit that it was funny that Obama is getting blasted in the foreign papers for not going to this rally and not sending any high level reps. I guess the best he sent was Holder, who snuck out early....before the group hug for world peace.

Tennessee Jed said...

Je ne suis pas Charlie (or is my old high school French far too rusty?) What you say is all too true. As a group celebs are GUILTY< GUILTY,GUILTY of exploiting anything and everything. I did not wath the Golden Globes, but would bet this particular bit of hypocrisy was in fill bore.

Bob said...

My take on why O didn't go to Paris rally:

Lazy (wanted to watch football on TV with his buds)
Pro-Islam (Didn't want Muslims to think he was against the religion)
Lazy (Really just doesn't give a s@!&about what happened)
Pro-Islam (VJ doesn't want to upset the Islamists in Tehran in the middle of "negotiations)
Lazy (He was not going to be the center of attention and it's a long flight on AF1, and you know, he's getting tired of riding around on that plane)

It's funny to me how tone deaf (plus they just don't care what the American public thinks) they are. When asked repeatedly by Ed Henry what the President was doing last weekend instead of attending the rally, "Josh" first states he hasn't checked with the Preezy yet on it. The next day when Ed Henry asks if he checked with the Preezy yet he claims the subject never came up.

So, bottom line....O didn't attend the rally because #1 - He is lazy (He sat around all weekend doing nothing, watching TV) He just doesn't give a s#!$ any more!

Anthony said...

*Shrugs* I think the whole 'I am Charlie' thing is a bit silly. Based on the little I've seen of their work, they are a very irreverent, contrarian (they gore sacred cows because they are sacred, and the sacred is silly) hard left magazine and I strongly doubt many of those jumping onboard the Charlie train and using them for their ends share either their courage or their convictions, but that is just the way the game is played.

Media events are grist for the mill, examples of why everyone's longstanding pet obsessions are valid, no matter what the people actually involved in the event think about the matter.

BevfromNYC said...

Let's add hashtags to the list of pointless joiner-ism. I experienced the phenomenon of joiner-ism in the late '80's with the AIDS ribbon. It was the brainchild of DIFFA (Design Industry Foundation For AIDS). Yes, it was to raise awareness...and if you didn't wear your ribbon at all time and at all relevant public functions, you were harangued until you were properly conformed. Otherwise you were deemed an enemy of...awareness? Who knows. It made me mad that no one was doing anything but wearing stupid ribbons and condemn those who didn't.

Kit said...

I have a confession to make. I posted a tweet w/ the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie attached to a clip from Casablanca.

You may stone me.

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