Minnesota Riots

In which RVA reminds you to remember your training…

The disconnect between what people enjoy and what they want always surprises me.  And frankly, troubles me.

Right now, as I write this, Minneapolis Minnesota is the cite of riots connected to the shooting of George Floyd.  The municipal and state police have been mobilized, as have the national guard.  Politicians and social activists are chiming in.  Marching.  Chanting.  Looting.  Rioting.  Arrests.  You know the deal.  You’ve seen this movie before.

But you see, that’s kind of the thing: you’ve seen this in movies and television and stories and games.  This course of action is as inevitable as gravity.  And yet, it seems to be bemoaned and lamented as avoidable, as the act of the greedy.  When, to me, that seems like attacking the planet for being greedy for pulling the apple to the ground.

Fiction exists to entertain, sure, but it does so by holding a mirror up to the viewer.  Humans are a vain lot and we are entertained by nothing more than ourselves.  So what entertain us is what attracts us, interests us.  As such, what entertains us is often insightful and educational to us.  We can learn a great deal from and through fiction.

Popular fiction deals with rebellions and revolutions quite a bit.  Hunger Games, Star Wars, Gladiator, the Ten Commandments.  And these are just the movies on TV right this moment as I check the feed.  All about revolution.  All about overthrowing the corrupt, tyrannical regime.

We’re not that far removed from Memorial Day, when we celebrate those who died in uniform.  Patriotic movies play all day while flags wave.  The American Revolution is just like the movies above: violent upheaval to throw off the shackles of (at least perceived) corrupt, tyrannical regieme.

Think of those movies.  Think of the violence.  Think of the bloodshed, whether it was graphic or not.  Think about the factors that played into those stories.  Think about the precipitating events, leading up to the full-scale revolution.

Now tell me again how you’re surprised about what’s happening in Minneapolis.

Society is ultimately a fairly simple thing.  It ebbs and flows and the intricacies can certainly be a daunting thing, but the general movements are real simple and real easy to predict.  If you do ‘X’ long enough, ‘Y’ will happen, and ‘Z’ will result.

Now tell me again how you’re surprised about what’s happening in Minneapolis.

This train’s never late, and people act surprised that it pulled into the station at all.  This country has been ripe for revolution for a long time; a lot longer than many people realize.  But what’s amazing to me is that the writing has been on the wall this whole time.  Look at the movies, look at the heroes, look at the songs we sing, look at the plays we watch.  I say again, this train’s never late.

Now tell me again how you’re surprised about what’s happening in Minneapolis.

I can appreciate that a thing is entertaining in fiction that is horrifying in reality.  Horror movies, pornography, war movies.  I get it.  But the sheer disconnect from what is happening and what is consumed I find troublesomely hypocritical.

The COVID-19 pandemic is damn-near apocalyptic.  And yet it is the perfect apocalypse because people still have food (mostly), there’s still air conditioning, there’s still electricity.  There are video games and soft-serve ice cream.  Life can’t be THAT bad if there’re video games and soft-serve ice cream.

Apocalyptic fiction is a dime-a-dozen.  People have been reading about the apocalypse with delight and enjoyment for ages.  They fill out questionnaires to see which type of survivor they are.  They compare and contrast the plausibility of survival strategies, and which type of scenario is the best.  But now that the absolute most mild apocalypse is upon them, many are throwing tantrums?  You whiney bastard, you’re re-reading the Road for recreation, but skipping the 2020 baseball season is unthinkable for you?

If you read apocalyptic fiction, if you fantasize about living through apocalyptic scenarios, and you bemoan how you can’t handle the easiest apocalypse imaginable, then you need to seriously re-examine your most basic logic.

The same is true for revolutionary fiction.  If you love Star Wars and the Patriot and the Purge, but simply can’t fathom why Minneapolis is burning right now, then you need to acknowledge that you are the absolutely most clueless reader to ever walk the earth.

Your fiction prepared you for these moments.  It’s okay if you lament real versus movies; that is totally reasonable.  But don’t pretend to be taken off-guard.  Don’t pretend to be confused.  And don’t pretend to be unprepared.  You were trained for this moment.  And if you didn’t pay attention in class?  Well, quite frankly, that’s on you.

Think of the movies you watch.  Think of events.  Think of the characters.

Now tell me again how you’re surprised about what’s happening in Minneapolis.

Author: Robert V Aldrich

Author. Speaker. Cancer Researcher. Martial Artist. Illustrator. Cat dad. Nerd.

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