ARE YOU READY FOR SOME COGNITIVE DISSONANCE?
Once upon a time there were some situations, in an arena/on TV, where violently aggressive behavior was encouraged and other situations, anywhere else, where it is discouraged. These situations were—or were kept—separate. The former, watched by millions, was lucrative for the watched, in the latter, it was illegal, and if discovered embarrassing, expensive and worse.
Today the scenario is more nuanced. The public violence still exists and is even more lucrative, but the circumstance surrounding the private variation has changed. Thanks to the new technologies, places formerly private are now public, so the illegal—and plain wrong—violence formerly kept private by the perpetrator’s millions is now as public as the violence of the arena.
Knowing the difference should be simple, even for zillionaire mega-jocks. They need to learn the difference between beating up other willing zillionaire-mega jocks for money and beating up unwilling smaller people for the hell of it. If they can’t figure this out by themselves, their even richer handlers need to hire pros to teach their entitled and pampered investments the difference before they act, not hire PR and law firms to cover it up after.
For the fan, it is more complex. On one hand he is being encouraged to identify with the spectacle that is pro football enough to buy watered down beer and the oversized trucks advertised there, while on the other, he is discouraged from identified so much as to harm innocent bystanders in response to watching the violence that is the essence of the event.
The problem here is that the mega-zillionaire handlers want to sell as much beer and trucks as possible, so they push the identification thing pretty far. Too far? The zillionaires say no. So what if a couple of fans get a little overheated and act out? Nobody has sued the league yet, so how bad can it be?
Anyway these violent acts—collaterally damaging effects of corporate greed—have no place in the world today. Nor have they ever been “morally” right. Plus, they are zero sum (zero winners) games; life is not so simple and winner taking all is not a viable solution. Someone somewhere will eventually try to take it all back; so the violence never stops.
This kind of one-upmanship aggression is wrong whether performed by multi-millionaires or regular guys. It is not confined to pro sports, and wherever it is, it is wrong when called a game, an investment or a limited military engagement. It is wrong done bare handed at home as well as with computers on Wall Street or drones half way round the world.
Growing up, I was immersed in a football-on-TV world. There was much yelling—at the TV, not at one’s fellows—and an occasion beer can was crushed, but nothing more violent. As much fun as it seemed everyone was having, I could never get involved with the sport of it all. There was usually always something better to do. The last football game I sorta watched was the 1984 super bowl and all I remember about that was an ad for a funny new computer.
And three decades later, I still don’t get the fascination with this kind of sports. I don’t know what could make me identify with a gang of millionaire jocks as I am neither rich nor athletic? These are not my people fighting our common enemy; they are gladiators assembled by billionaire emperors to fight with other “teams” for the sole purpose of taking money from people who they’ve convinced to identify.
I don’t buy it at all. I don’t fantasize myself like them; taking what I want by my brute strength and then be adulated by the assembled masses for my so-called disciplined athleticism. As fun as that sounds, I don’t see the probability of it being increased by me watching a football game, let alone by drinking too many watery beers or buying a big truck.
I made this drawing a couple of decades ago for an advice to lovelorn column in the newspaper I worked for at the time. I don’t remember the details of the problem or the advice, but from the drawing I’ll assume the problem was something about some individuals doing what they see on TV at home and other individuals not liking it.
The drawing was first drawn in black and white, with a fountain pen on tracing paper; then gray tints added in photoshop, I colorized it recently for this post, in Photoshop, even though my current go-to program is Corel Painter x3. The original is buried is the “published work” section of this blog, in the “tales…” folder there with other illustration of life and love problems.