"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Extreme Victimhood - Sharing Misery In A Woke, Confessional Age

“I am a  proud cancer survivor”, said Brenna Lennon recently on a daytime television chat show.  “I have beaten ovarian cancer, and I am here to tell women not to be afraid”. 

Image result for Images Ovarian Cancer. Size: 229 x 103. Source: daro.qub.ac.uk

The woman, however, gaunt and drawn, the ravages of her illness apparent even through layers of makeup, was dead within a month. 

“She was brave and a fighter until the end”, said her daughter in a guest appearance  on the show, “and I am here to share her spirit”.  The studio audience, unsure how to react to this show of upbeat grief, sat on their hands until the prompter held up the applause sign; but even then the response was tepid.  The poor woman was dead, for God’s sake, let her rest in peace.

Yet the daughter smiled for the camera, wiped a way a tear, and waved.  Cut to a commercial break, and when the show returned, the daughter was offstage, promised a return which was never intended to be honored, so soon to leave by the stage door for her hotel and Minneapolis the next day.

This particular episode of the Marty Marion Show left many viewers queasy, for imminent death was not part of the act.  The producer was fired after news of the woman’s death appeared on social media; and the show went on without any notice of her passing.  It was as though she never existed, a blip on the radar, a shadow on the screen for an instant, and then gone.

The next episodes of the show were upbeat and happy – tinselly starlets, handsome men, five-star chefs, and travelogues to the most beautiful, desirable places on the planet.  The new producer was charged with expunging every last trace of doom and gloom, and by the time summer reruns began, everyone had forgotten the ovarian cancer lady.

Image result for images tinsley talk show guests

Why on earth did she want to go public in the first place with her painful, desperate, young death?  Where was her sense of dignity, lost in her first moments on stage?  Where was her sense of finality? Death, common to all, is not for everyone to see.  A private matter certainly; but the identity culture being what it is, all those suffering serious illness are welcome members.  They are survivors, not sufferers; and the more serious the illness and the more challenging the struggle, the more welcome they are.

In this spirit Brenna accepted an invitation to go on the Marty Marion Show.  The producers were lax in their vetting, overlooked Brenna’s Stage Three diagnosis, and welcomed her on.  When she was booked, her face was burnished with a late summer tan, her body still full and appealing, and her smile bright and cheerful.  She was exactly what they were looking for.

Unknowingly and unwittingly, however, she had been coopted, her losing battle with cancer turned into a struggle worthy of note.  Yet, not soon after her appearance, and despite the earlier enthusiastic embrace of champions of diversity and inclusivity, she was forgotten.  She was too ravaged, desperate, and lost to be of any interest.  Once her survivor identity had dissipated and then disappeared, she was supernumerary, marginalized and forgotten.  The dying were not members of any identity group.

Alexa Townsend had suffered from severe depression for years, and despite the pharmacopeia of psycho-active drugs, was still struggling to make it through the day.  Yet she had moments of lucidity and spoke hopefully about her condition. She would not give in to her illness she said; but this spontaneous expression of courage was only momentary, for it was unknown during her dark, desperate ones where her despair was absolute.

Image result for images black dog depression

It was during one of her sunnier moments that she agreed to a request from a local women’s group to talk about her depression.  She, like Brenna Lennon, would be an example to women who suffered silently, unwilling to share their affliction and who without honesty could never be helped.  “You will be an example to all these victims”, the group organizer said, “a role model, a hero”.

The organizer knew that the window of opportunity would soon shut, and Alexa would return to the dark penumbra of her depression; so he quickly arranged for her appearance.  Invitations were sent out and the response was more enthusiastic than expected, and over 100 guests were expected.

Unfortunately on the day of the event Alexa felt the dark, bleak, hopeless depression descend.  The outside world changed color, darkened, the black dog was at the door, and only she remained, alone and afraid.

“Miss Townsend”, called the organizer.  “We are ready for you"; but there was no response to knocks on her door.  As the time for her presentation approached, the worried organizer knocked more firmly, but there was no sign of stirring or life.  “Miss Townsend”, the organizer insisted more loudly, but still quiet and unresponsiveness. He gave up, apologized to the audience for Alexa’s absence, explaining that “she, as we speak, is fighting the demons of depression”.

Just as Brenna Lennon had been left on the curb once her window of utility had closed, so Alexa Townsend.  Her demission, uncalled for absence, and lack of even a modicum of responsibility to others, was deftly explained away by motions of empathy and compassionate understanding.  Fortunately an understudy had been approached and secured beforehand; so he, a survivor of ‘incidental depression’, a clinical term for feeling sorry for oneself after repeated failures, took the stage.  The gathering had hoped for severe, morbid depression, i.e. the depressive edges of the malady, so were disappointed at what amounted to a depression wannabee’s confession of ‘employment frailty’.

Meanwhile Alexa remained locked in her dressing room, extracted finally by the maintenance engineer and in-house psychiatrist, and interned at St Elizabeth’s (Mental) Hospital in Southeast for an indeterminately long stay.

The identity mavens were voracious, and sought victims from every category, slice, and subdivision of damaged society to be presented as examples of inclusivity to be used as poster children for compassionate progressivism.  Word got around, and men and women with terminal cancer, debilitating mental illness, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s were to be identified, lauded for their courage, and given public attention.  No longer would soldiers, men and women of law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency personnel be the only American heroes.

Image result for images heroes of the american revolution

Nonsense of course.  Life, as Hobbes well knew, is short, nasty, and brutish and early death to be expected if not embraced.  It would have been unconscionable in years past to open one’s emotional clothes hamper to public view.  Today’s confessional public side show would have been absurd….as it is now, in the opinion of many who wish that Stage Three cancer patients would die with respect and in private, sharing nothing of their final days.  There is nothing, these ancestors knew, that anyone can tell anyone else about pain, suffering, and untimely death.

So Brenna and Alexa suffered the worst modern fate – being ignored, dismissed, and forgotten – and the rest of us went on our way without a blip or a tremor.

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