Honey, I love a bit of satire as much as the next person. I’ve even been known to employ it a time or two myself. But I realized a few years back that the kind of satire I was used to enjoying – that employed by wisecracking Southerners like Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Willie Morris, Barry Hannah, Rick Bragg, Roy Blount Jr. – was a far cry different than the kind employed nowadays.
My panties were jerked in a knot some years back when I spoke out about a book that millions found funny – Go the F**k to Sleep – but which I found to be decidedly not funny. As I pointed out in an essay I wrote for CNN, when one has been immersed in a story about child abuse, one is hypersensitive to the ways in which children today are being abused. One of which is the ugly, demeaning ways in which so many children are spoken to on a daily basis. So there was no way I was going to find a book that adapts that same abusive language and cloaks it as “satire” funny. I stand by my original assessment of Mansbach’s book: Not funny. Not in the least bit.
You, of course, have the right to disagree with me.
And thousands did. Some of them were people I consider friends of mine.
When CNN published my oped about the book. my cell phone blew up. Hundreds sent me tweets, FB messages, and voicemails, telling me what a loser I am (only the language they used was much more abrasive). If I’d listened to all their advice, comments, suggestions, I wouldn’t be here writing this today. I would have thrown myself atop a heap of manure and suffocated to death.
If I had been a more insecure person I might have been devastated by the overwhelming negative response to my take on the book.
Instead, I took Taylor Swift’s advice.
But that was the first time I really understood what was meant by “generational gap.” Up until then, it was only a term I thought old people used to describe their dislike of hippies.
Now the hippies are the old people, and there is much about today’s online “anything goes” generation that I don’t find to be entertaining or humorous in the least.
I’ll admit that The Onion lost me as a reader some years ago. That’s okay. I don’t think they are aiming to lure me in anyway. I’m not part of their demographic. I’ll readily admit that I am not hip enough, or cool enough, or some would probably suggest, smart enough for their sort of humor.
I’m good with that.
One of the gifts of aging is that I no longer care about trying to be somebody I’m not.
I’ve come to accept and embrace my quirky sense of self. I like me and I’m okay if you don’t.
That’s my disclaimer, by the way. You might not like what I am going to say next.
The Onion and Click Hole put up a meme this week that for some reason they found humorous. It’s a picture of a young girl holding a folded flag with the caption: Free Triangle! Fuck Yeah!
I’d like to buy the person who created this meme a cup of coffee. I’d really like to try and understand what in God’s sweet name they found humorous at all about this. I’d like to give them a chance to explain how such an image is “satire”.
Then, I’d like to take them out back to the woodshed and let a group of hardened Army Rangers beat the holy shit out of whatever punk came up with this meme.
Once they’ve recovered, if they recover, I’d like to hand them a copy of AFTER THE FLAG HAS BEEN FOLDED and make them write a book report detailing all the ways in which the death of a soldier changes the life of his or her loved ones.
Once they’ve done that, I’m going to take that punk and his/her editor on a little trip – to Washington D.C. and Normandy.
We’ll visit the gravesites of those soldiers whose last gift from the country that too often betrayed them was a folded flag.
I’ll hold the hand of that punk and his/her editor as they snot all over themselves saying how sorry they are, that they had no idea, as we read the names of all those sons and daughters who deserve every bit of honor we can muster because they were doing exactly what their country asked of them when they were shot down or blown up or tortured to death.
In our family the folded flag isn’t a meme. And, I can assure you, there is nothing at all funny about waking to a flag in a box rather than the warm embrace of a loving father.
Yeah, our family has one of those triangles depicted in your ridiculous meme. (It should be noted that I am employing self-control here. What I feel about what you have done is a lot more hateful than the words I am using. That’s the difference between my values & yours: Self-control. Respect. Honor. Kindness.)
Your meme, which I am sure you meant as satire but isn’t, suggests that such flags are free.
I don’t know how to respond to that other than to shake my head at your complete and utter stupidity.
You know nothing, absolutely nothing about the cost of such a flag.
Stand before that black marble scar off Henry Bacon Road and then ponder the wisdom of your silly meme.
If you dare to face the truth behind a little girl holding a folded flag, you can read my father’s name on Panel 9 East Line 71. I was about the age of that little girl in your meme when my father died.
In fact, I’ll meet you there over Memorial Day weekend, if you like, and I’ll gladly tell you the stories of the father I lost. I’ll even introduce you to some of the finest men I’ve ever known. Vietnam veterans who volunteer their time at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. They know the stories behind the names of those men and women. Some of the dead were their good buddies. Men and women that they laughed with, back before anyone had ever even heard of a meme.
I’m not much for online shaming. It’s not my style. I think regret is only useful when it wells up from within and compels a person to change. I also get that The Onion prides itself on having no respect of anyone or anything.
I just hope you understand that the reason you have the opportunity to do what you do is because of the sacrifices attached to that folded flag you so willingly degrade and dishonor.
Here’s a meme I’ve created just for you. It’s not funny. It’s just true.