FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dancing with the Scarred

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

 

More articles by:

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

August 21, 2018
Anthony DiMaggio
Fascist Nation: The “Alt-Right” Menace Persists, Despite Setbacks
Chris Floyd
Dial “N” for Mayhem: Wording Our Way to a New Level of Hell
Creston Davis
The Education Impasse in the USA
Jonathan Cook
In Detaining Peter Beinart, Israel Has Declared it No Longer Represents Millions of Jews Overseas
Kshama Sawant
UPS Teamsters, We Have Your Back in this Fight
Kenneth Culton
Trump Supporters: the Joyous Cult Bound by Shared Story and Ritual
Andy Thayer
Why the Chicago ‘68 Convention Matters Today
Simone Chun
Sea of Tears: The Tragedy of Families Split by the Korean War
William Blum
The Russians Did It (cont.)
Manuel E. Yepe
How Capitalism Erodes Mental Health
Doug Noble
Thomas Mountain
Djibouti Faces Dark Days to Come; Eritrean Ports, Pipeline Threaten Ethiopian Trade Lifeline
Binoy Kampmark
Finding Fault and Faulty Infrastructure: Genoa’s Morandi Bridge Disaster
Kary Love
“Suffer Not the Little Children….”
Thomas Knapp
Omarosa Manigault Newman, Public Servant
August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Mighty Voice for Peace Has Gone Silent: Uri Avnery, 1923-2018
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail