There was a moment a few weeks back when the justifiable amount of outrage over Trayvon Martin’s murder was so strong, so solid that I thought that we’d finally as a country reached some kind of tangible consensus and that somehow, Change Could Be Made and that We Would Start a Real and Honest Dialogue on Race and Gun Violence. Of course it took exactly less than a week before the sub-sapien species at Fox and friends accused Martin of a litany of sins, among them: causing his own death by wearing a hoodie, dealing drugs, having a dumb Twitter name, and looking different in various photos. The internet chorus, of course, followed suit; and I have to say my favorite type of commentor on sites such as Gawker are the ones that preface their totally pointless opinions with, “I’m just being fair. I just want both sides of the story to be heard.” Ah, my favorite type of person: the contrarian. Unfortunately, we’re not hearing much from Trayvon these days. How quickly the brief consensus and horror has shattered here and devolved into an ugly taking apart of a 16 year old’s personal life; as if being caught with marijuana became reasonable cause for his execution.
I spoke to a friend recently about the startling impasse we’ve seemed to have reached at this particular time in our nation’s history, in which national identity has been so polarized that Americans no longer have a common ground on much at all. The malaise has crippled our government and frozen our ability to maintain; much less make progress, and while it’s evident in the depressing state of affairs, it’s also depressing to how quickly and easily we give into consensus in popular entertainment. It’s sad to think that most likely a show like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air would never make it past BET today; cable itself has divided up into a million specialty channels to make it easier for advertisers to address an intended audience. Recently, as a card-carrying Twenty Something Female Living in New York, I’ve been assaulted with a highly targeted media campaign to try and get me to watch (or talk about) the show Girls. The media powers that be proclaimed show creator Lena Dunham to be the “voice of my generation,” ironic given the fact that I’m entirely sure that she could not be further from speaking for me or the majority of the people I know. The fact is, HBO has already given her a show because it’s already pegged me as a potential audience member; a twenty-something female that cares about things like being cut off from your parents (I paid for college myself?), bad boyfriends (mine is mostly nice), cellulite (don’t have it), and living in Brooklyn (Queens, actually, the most unglamorous borough of all time). Ironic that as a country we cannot agree on whether healthcare should be deigned a universal right, and whether being murdered in cold blood was a legal accident; but it’s been agreed upon that the current generation of women can be spoken for by four white girls that live in fantasy-land Greenpoint.