Friday, February 1, 2008

I Hope You Can See This, Because I'm Doing It As Hard As I Can

Well, it's February now. A month that holds many meanings for many people - well, mostly two things: a shitty commercialized love holiday so saccharine and contrived that it threatens to not only make us all diabetic, but to make our jaws fall off, and that yearly football game where everyone sits around on their asses and clogs their arteries while yelling at the TV and inviting a coronary - yeah, that one. I'll be getting to both of these matters later on, so look forward to it. (Or don't, but you won't get any satisfaction out of that. Is this any time of year to tempt seasonal affective disorder? Is it?)

This time, in this somewhat shorter than usual blurb, I felt that it was time to take a look back. Specifically, a look back to 365 days and somewhere in the area of 12-24ish hours ago.

The place is Boston, Massachusetts, an equally beloved, reviled, and retarded little slice of this place we call Hosertown South: Formerly America. (Thanks, Canadian-sympathetic space invaders! ...Whoops, wasn't supposed to talk about those. Looks like I won't be living to write the next entry after all.) Of course, you could apply this description to virtually any city here, major or minor - and isn't that what makes this country great? (And depressingly nondescript when speaking in wonderfully broad, vague terms?) Specifically, we're going back to Boston on January 31st, 2007, for those of you more chronologically-challenged. (Yes, I know, some of you were really looking forward to a rousing anecdote about Abraham Lincoln - there's no need to be ashamed, who doesn't love hearing about the time Lincoln beat that giant beaver in the curling match to end all curling matches? But I'm afraid we're talking about something far more recent, and far less legendary. We'll never forget your courage, giant beaver.)

That last paragraph sure had a lot of parenthetical asides, didn't it? Of course, they were all critically important.

Anyway, January 31st, Boston, what happened that day? You don't know? Are you new to the internets? Oh, you are! I see, I see. I suppose I can't blame you too much, then. You can safely skip the first Failboat voyage of the day, then. Sit back and let yourself be educated, for there is much for you to learn. (Just when you thought I couldn't get any more pompous sounding.)

On that fateful day, Boston came under attack by the greatest animated fast food threat they'd faced since Savage Steve Holland unleashed Better Off Dead to theaters worldwide in 1985!

Well, technically, it wasn't so much the talking fast food characters from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie that sent the public into a panic so much as LED advertisements with one of their Mooninite Atari pixel art semi-antagonists flipping everyone the bird. And it wasn't so much that the public went into a panic as someone called the police over one of these placards and they were immediately declared to have shared "some characteristics with improvised explosive devices." Kind of like how if you have some cold medicine you're halfway to making crystal meth, or if you have some aluminum tubes, you could very well be producing weapons of mass destruction. Clearly, this is an easy mistake to make. Who wouldn't want to advertise their violent rebellion against society with a Lite-Brite image of a fairly well known cartoon character?

The terrorists are back! Or so the Boston authorities were quick to exclaim. After all, who wouldn't jump at another chance to scare the public? In New England, where progressive, liberal, left-wing thinking is commonplace, what better way to try to scare the public back into submission to the government and right-wing interests - Support that war! Send more troops! It's time to exchange your civil rights for "security!" All Hail King Bushie XIV! (And so on.) - than jumping the gun on calling a little viral marketing possible terrorism!? (Though somewhat in their defense, it probably wouldn't have killed somebody at Cartoon Network to let city officials know about this marketing campaign in advance. But then, I don't know if that sort of thing would be standard practice in a case like this or not.) After all, it's not like Al-Qaeda didn't take down the World Trade Center a bit over 6 years ago, up there in New York. And politicians - the Republicans especially? They sure don't take every opportunity they get to harp on said terrorist attacks to validate their own corrupt political agendas, dangerous, aggressive military campaign, and effectively strip all the rights and power they can from the people. How can we defend freedom and liberty if we have the freedom not to elect violent psychopaths that abuse and have ultimately broken the government system, and treat our soldiers like mindless ants to send to their death in a conflict with a culture and people we neither understand nor have any sort of sympathy from?

Even after the signs were found to be what they are, the facts all known, the guys who put them up were charged with placing a hoax device to incite panic - and made to do community service in the end. Isn't wacky justice fun?

A year later, Adult Swim viewers and the internets alike (Let's face it, they're pretty much one and the same, anyway.) are still laughing. What can we learn from this? It's good to be wary of potential terrorism, sure, but paranoid? Not so much. Do a little research before you jump the gun, especially over something as odd as this. Not everything in the world is a bomb. Also, it never hurts to be at least slightly in touch with today's pop culture. (Even if Aqua Teen Hunger Force was more of a phenomenon 4-5 years ago. Talking fast food getting into surreal and vaguely funny situations isn't as edgy today - not when you could have stop motion '80s action figures making toilet jokes and killing each other.)

It's especially funny to me, in that I'm finally going to start applying to a few New England grad schools soon - those whose deadlines for applications to their Creative Writing programs didn't pass in early January, anyway - and odds are I'll be applying to at least one grad school in the Boston area. Seems like the kind of city I'd enjoy, not having been before, but let's face it - thanks to this incident, Boston's police are still a laughingstock. People of Boston - especially my fellow geeks and nerds - I can only imagine your pain and embarrassment. But if I end up going to grad school in that area, I'm afraid I'm going to be pretty much obligated to make a crack or two about it.

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