FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dancing with the Scarred

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

I’ve been thinking of marketing a concept in the genre that’s all the rage—Reality Television. My primary objective is to enlighten the public, however if financial success is a byproduct, I won’t complain.

This I know: engaging the masses requires much more than the presentation of truth. Truth must be veiled in entertainment, the latter a lure to hold attention until the truth, finally, is grasped through (gasp) an epiphany. And, yes, I do believe I’ve come up with something that delivers both.

Here’s the idea: I’m imagining a show whose contestants are troops who’ve returned from AfPak-Iraq. My production crew could go to any military hospital’s traumatic brain injury (TBI) ward to seek competitors for the series. I’m talking Dancing with the Scarred. We’d have Hollywood types work with the young men and women to teach them some dance moves and create fabuloso costumes.

Obviously, I could cut costs if I don’t have to employ an expensive panel of semi-celeb judges. Who needs these “experts”? I could bring back the applause meter. Anyone remember Queen for a Day, featuring women who told and sold their sad swelling of jeremiads? After all the revelations of dearth, the television audience clapped for the person living the worst nightmare. Of course, misery is subjective, and evaluating it is a subjective endeavor. But the applause meter always settled differences and registered the winner who, then, was crowned “Queen.” Lavished with gifts, she cried and, of course, her emotions were accompanied by a torrent of tears from those who watched.

TBI, also, could be an acronym for To Be Involved. This is where the viewers, actually, engage emotionally. To be involved in the reality of war. You know, to, finally, GET it. This is the truth part, that element much more difficult to achieve. The TBI troops are falling all over the dance floor, struggling with a few “dance” steps while hooked up to mobile medical equipment. The live audience and home viewers watch intently and feel their complacency erode as empathy enters their hearts.

Add a few “before” shots. Of the contestants. For more poignancy. Video footage from a wedding or playing with their children prior to deployment. Juxtapose this with the new REALITY.

Don’t you think I’m on to something? I know I said money making isn’t the primary goal, but I could, possibly, bank enough to move to a more peaceful country—if I can find a place that US imperialism hasn’t exploited, isn’t in the process of exploiting, or isn’t planning to exploit.

The major objective, though, is not my escape, but rendering null and void escapism. Because my creation might (?) compel viewers to do something to prevent the progression of tragic homecomings. To stop more explanations like this: “Yes, Daddy’s coming back but he won’t be able to toss that football with you, ever again.” Or: “No, Mommy won’t be driving you to after-school activities. Mommy won’t be allowed behind the wheel of a car.”

The possibilities, of course, are almost endless; ideas are tumbling in my head. Post-traumatic stress disorder. How about a show whose contestants react to a loud noise? Like a car’s backfire. They’d be told they’re taking part in something to inform the public about the never-ending damage to a troop’s psyche, but while sitting there under the spotlight, in front of a live audience, and, of course, all those watching from home, they’d hear a BOOM, simulated explosives. Just think about it—the veterans would be scrambling to reach for an imaginary AK-47 or M16 as sweat rolls down their faces and their armpits spew liquid fear. Close-up, please! This one could be called Bring ‘Em On, to re-popularize a G. Bush motto. Better still, Bring ‘Em On TV.

Also, consider homeless veterans. There has to be a time slot for a show called American Idle.

Whaddayathink? Do I have a winner that could elicit some necessary attention from the La-Z-Boy dwellers so they’ll get their lazy-boy and girl asses into the reality of what is being done in their names?

Egad, more ideas are knocking against my skull. If I had a few wealthy investors, I could import some AfPak-Iraqi children for several different series. Some of the babies born with birth defects because of the weapons we’ve used. I could call this one Who Wants to Stare at a Child with a Depleted Cranium. And a show about children who’ve seen their parents explode. This would be Who Wants to Parent a War Orphan. Oh, and the amputees. This one is easy: The Smallest Loser.

But wait. Hmm, I sound like a pitchwoman. And, perhaps, I am. Because I should pitch this idea as a movie about contemporary culture and the worship of Reality Television. My film would present the examples I’ve just described. But, unlike other war movies, mine wouldn’t exalt invasion and occupation. Instead, it would emphasize the effects of war on the survivors.

I can see the opening scene. A family, in their gas-slurping SUV, heading out on vacation and arguing over which Reality show to watch on the television, mounted for the kids. The ending could pose a problem, though. Will those who see the consequence of war demand its end? Or will they say, “The contestant pool will diminish if we call for troops out now?”

I think I know the answer.

Any filmmakers and screenwriters interested? Sean Penn? James Cameron? Alex Rivera? I must admit to having a small crush on Larry David. But if I could interest Kathryn Ann Bigelow and Mark Boal, the team who brought us “The Hurt Locker,” well, wow—even though their Academy Award winner glorifies the horrifying.

Please, somebody, contact me, via email–especially you, Larry.

Missy Beattie moved from Manhattan to Baltimore in 2007. Her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase Johnson Comley, was killed in Iraq in 2005. Contact her at: missybeat@aol.com

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and My Late Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy after All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail