Well, this is a nice 2015.
What’s been going on in Paris; the massacre, reaction to the massacre, reaction to the reaction to the massacre is global news gold with the likes of FOX, Sky News and the AP all showing reports, opinions, and articles condemning the murderers and their rationale behind it. But at the same time showing restraint from fully supporting Charlie Hegbo and their Voltaire inspired sense of satire by refusing to show the cover of their infamous current issue, depicting a drawing of the Prophet Mohammed.
It shows what a bind democratic news finds itself in. You can’t offend the majority, connected by the slimmest of religious connections to the perpetrators, but at the same time they want to show defiance in the face of such atrocity.
And I thought NFL referees had a hard time determining what was and what wasn’t a catch? Guys, you don’t know how easy you have it….
But it makes me think about what people, and society as a whole, really want?
I left highschool in the late nineties, going immediately to college two years later. A huge fan of Deadpool and Joss Whedon before both became mainstream; I was reading and watching alongside other diehard comic and sci-fi fans. Not so much Buffy, (I could never embrace the whole “high-school” setup) but definitely Angel which had a darker, more adult theme. In the comic runs of the early 2000’s, first in Deadpool, and later in Angel, the protagonists were faced with the situation of apparent global peace. But they find out it’s not the panacea it’s turned out to be.
Defined as “bliss” in the Deadpool story but with practically identical results; all the different factions of the world stop fighting one another after being pacified following exposure to a celestial higher being. In Angel it’s a renegade Power-that-Be in the form of Jasmine turning up in Season 4, whereas creator and artist Joe Kelly goes one step further in Deadpool calling the alien from another world “The Messiah”. Both consume any and all free will of those that discover them, leaving the population of earth either sycophantic acolytes who want nothing more than to praise their newfound deity or worse a planet of slack-jawed drooling zombies incapable of rational thought.
In the end both titular characters realise that in order to save the world from this wondrous and accepted catatonia they have to end the spells of their respective deities. They have to bring back free will at the expense of world peace. They have to allow murder and pain and evil a foothold in the world because without it mankind as a species will never push itself to greater things. The struggle with evil proposed as the only way good can eventually succeed.
Angel, the “vampire with a soul” handles the responsibility remarkably well. Breaking Jasmine’s spell he absorbs a slight beating when she realises her plans have been thwarted (she throws a car at him) but doesn’t seem too badly rattled at turning the world back into chaos. On the other hand Wade Wilson (Deadpool’s alter ego) suffers what many supporting characters observe as something close to a breakdown, or at least to the level of a breakdown as someone as mentally unhinged as Wade could have, fleeing into the jungles of South America and refusing to speak to anyone about the choices he was forced to make, the burden of humanity’s symbiotic negativity apparently shouldered by him alone.
Both stories suggest the notion that whatever the consequences of free will, they are better than the mind-numbing lockstep of conformity. Even if the benefits of universal love and acceptance are what’s being offered, the individual choice is still the correct one.
It’s something Whedon would expand on later in the film Serenity, when the crew discover the planet Miranda and its desiccated inhabitants. Who all let themselves die by virtue of inertia on account of their disastrous medicating of the K-Pax drug, which was added to the planet’s atmosphere by the global Alliance intentionally in order to weed out aggression.
Again the message promoted being that free will is free will regardless of the problems it creates, because the alternative is very much worse. And that’s not even taking the psychotic Reavers into account, created by the same scheme of eugenics on the off-chance, described as a percentage of the population who reacted to the K-Pax in completely the opposite extreme.
Balance is the key to the world, but world peace? It seems an alien concept even before the horrific events in Paris a fortnight ago. And before the wars in the Middle East. And 9/11. And back and back and back, right the way back to when Cain killed Abel. Or when the first cave drawings depicted wars and battles between different clans of cavemen, which ever ancient history you happen to believe.
There is negotiation and tolerance to a degree, but usually only to the promotion of mutual gain. Universal peace between all the nations and religions of the world? Impossible.
But is that necessarily a bad thing?
Then I turn on the TV and see reports of Isis executing people by chucking them off buildings, crucifying people, and stoning women to death. Something tells me airstrikes aren’t doing the trick, you hear me UN?
I don’t have any answers, I can barely take care of myself half the time, but with all this dischord in the world and world peace a dream it makes me wonder what’s left? How do we get better as a species? As a nation? As just me sitting here typing this?
Or should I just pack it up and go home?