In a piece for Post-Colonial Politics, cultural critic Mark Dery explores our now seemingly never-ending collective American horror story and what it's like to "live in a nation permanently on edge, a nation whose nervous system has been short-circuited by post-traumatic stress, a nation that knows it will be retraumatized tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and maybe for every tomorrow to come by the farcical awfulness of just about everything."
The massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas is a case in point. The mindless slaughter of 19 children and two adults by yet another mass shooter is the horror; the nauseatingly farcical part is the Groundhog Day repetition of such carnage—268 such incidents, to date, in 2022 alone, depending on how one defines "mass shooting," 17 of them since the bloodbath in Texas. Their mind-reeling frequency, and the cognitive dissonance induced by having to feel shocked/not shocked, sick with fury/benumbed by cynicism all at once, all over again, all the time, gives us that trapped-in-the-funhouse-hall-of-mirrors feeling. The rote "thoughts and prayers" from Republican pols puppeteered by Wayne LaPierre's withered claw up their asses adds to the air of ghastly unreality. So does the headshaking about "partisan rancor" by "news analysts" whose scrupulous both-sides-ism requires them to feign amnesia about the GOP's craven fealty to the NRA and its refusal, for years, to pass even the most commonsense gun-control legislation.
What makes us feel as if reality itself is trolling us is learning that heavily armed officers forbore to rush the gunman, for an hour,while the slaughter of the innocents proceeded apace inside the school because "they could've been shot."
And that state troopers refused to act when distraught parents begged them to save their children but were all action when those same parents attempted to storm the school, pepper-spraying, tasing, handcuffing them.
Read the rest here.
Image: Big Brother, Watching You, in "1984" (1984, directed by Michael Radford)