MakeOver Nation

I am stunned by this makeover madness on the telly. In my nightly crawl of cable, I see people get makeovers for their cars, their houses, their partners, their careers, their pets, their face, their bodies.
On and on and on.

Americans have given up. Thrown their hands up in the air, and yelled to the Gods: We Sucketh. Expect Us Not to Organize, to Learn, to Manage, to Cope. And the Gods have answered with a crop of gay lifestyle experts, hunky carpenters, teams of surgeons, acerbic wits and Visa/MasterCard. Their dreams come true, they get a new wardrobe, a plasma tv, a new attitude, a new fame and we, the viewers, are satiated. Another one of us is rescued by the Gods. We cheer the triumph of a team of specialists with unlimited budgets over our lives’ most intractable problems. We hope we are next. A nation of 250 million awaits their makeover – one by one.

In this weird moment in American cultural history, the viewers of the 90s reality tv fad (Real World, Springer Show etc.) have become the participants of the new decade. No longer are we content with voyeurism of the freaks and geeks but we have to manifest our own identity as their opposites. We all deserve better. We should dress better, make more money, look prettier, have nicer friends, have passionate sex, and millions should KNOW us. Oprah can sell us a contract and allow us to overcome ourselves. The makeover shows give us all the help we need to finally free the “real” me trapped under bad fashion and bad fat.

What I would like to know is, where does it go? Will the audience grow impatient with the rate of makeovers? Will we have mobs of people hunting experts down? Where is the makeover madness taking us? I can tell that for one, it is taking us to EXTREME editions. Sure, but is that all? Aren’t there bigger issues than teen body image problems arising out of Swan? The very ethos of can-do, do-all Americana is at risk, I venture.

Conspiracy Theory Alert!!

Grapevine says that in all the hubhub in Fallujah, the US is shipping WMDs into Iraq in trucks with fake Saudi and Jordanian license plates. I would never pay attention to that. I maintain that people are too damn dumb to conceal ANYTHING. When they do try, they come up with the most implausible scenarios ever! Case in point, Kevin Spacey. It is so obvious that this man was engaged in consensual park activity of the oral nature with the “mugger”. After the deed was done, Mr. Spacey panicked that The Sun would be carrying details about the story in the morning. So he probably threatened the young gentleman with a mugging story and went running to the bobbies to create the cover story. In the end, the whole thing blows up in his face (!) and he retracts with a “i tripped on my dog”.
That is ridiculous, you say? Yes, it is. I am just pointing out that the cover story sucks (…) and that if this WMD story is true and the weapons are being planted then that cover story will be EVEN lamer and will blow up in the neo-con faces.
However, that is not to say that I don’t think they won’t try it anyways.
So, if there is any WMD news between now and November, lets all take the Kevin Spacey test to the cover story.

El Pibe de Oro

News today that Diego Maradona is under intensive care after suffering from respitory failure – maybe the result of an overdose.
To a generation, such as mine, which never saw Pele play live, Maradona was the greatest ever.
World Cup 1986: We dragged the teevee out into the back garden. Amma would go to sleep and late into the night PTV would show feed from Mexico. We watched the quarterfinal match against England where Maradona scored the best goal ever. No, I am not talking about the Hand of God goal. The fact that it was England getting their tail kicked some years after the Falklands “war” was just gravy.
World Cup 1990: Again with the teevee in the back garden. Ok, the deal there is that the antennae reception was excellent outside because our house used to be pristine open country (not so much now). Again, I watched Argentina beat Brazil in the rounds and against all odds, a broken Maradona led Argentina to the finals. But no further.
1991, Maradona got caught snorting cocaine. He made it to the USA for the 1994 World Cup. This time I actually got to see some live World Cup action (remember Pontiac Dome, Steve-o?). Maradona had brilliance, people – the match against Nigeria. But, he got thrown out for drugs or steroids this time.
I hope Maradona pulls through to take part in the Athens ceremony.

Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Blasting loud rock (what, no LimpBizkit?) and insults at the Fallujah uprisers is the current state of psyops in Iraq.

At night, the psychological operations unit attached to the Marine battalion here sends out messages from a loudspeaker mounted on an armored Humvee. On Thursday night, the crew and its Arabic-language interpreter taunted fighters, saying, ≥May all the ambulances in Fallujah have enough fuel to pick up the bodies of the mujahadeen.≤
The message was specially timed for an attack moments later by an AC-130 gunship that pounded targets in the city. Later, the team blasted Jimi Hendrix and other rock music, and afterward some sound effects like babies crying, men screaming, a symphony of cats and barking dogs and piercing screeches. They were unable to draw any gunmen to fight, and seemed disappointed.

It seems like a weird tactic (do the insurgents even know english?) designed to provoke more than prevent. But that seems to be the modus operandi in Iraq. There is no attempt at all to connect to the Iraqis as people with a proud heritage who have yet to achieve their freedom. The tactics of war are good for just that: war. You cannot have a peace and reconstruction mission carried out by marines and soldiers. They are trained for something else.
Fallujah is a fiercely tribal place that will answer only with aggression. Wiser heads than mine, Juan Cole, have written on the need for temperance and restraint in Fallujah.
Here is another account of a briton in Baghdad pointing out the absurdity of peace-keeping with military tanks.
All this is, rather, academic. Iraq has toppled into the chaos that was predicted before the war. Bush/Blair are leaving come July. Iraq belongs to the Iraqis. Afghanistan belongs to the Afghanis. We have done our job. To give them freedom.