“Slide your feet up the street bend your back / shift your arm then you pull it back / Life is hard, you know (oh-way-oh) / So strike a pose on a Cadillac / If you want to find all the cops / they’re hanging out in the donut shop / They sing and dance (oh-way-oh) / spin the clubs cruise down the block”
– The Bengals, “Walk Like An Egyptian”
“Walk Like An Egyptian”
MauiTime — February 3, 2011 — Volume 14, Issue 33
by Anu Yagi
I’m wrapped in a Snuggie watching Avatar on Blu-ray, eating a chocolate-dipped waffle cone pulled from a Costco-sized box in a freezer. I couldn’t feel more American.
As the movie ends, my kind hosts (i.e. parents) head to bed, so the remote control is all mine. Unrestrained by complicated blankets, I lift my still-cozy arm to channel surf, pausing only to occasionally raise the roof when the Snuggie spirit moves me.
One pause happens to be on a 24-hour news channel, and I’m forcibly reminded that real world events are occurring. Tickers and hyperbole indicate there’s some crazy crap happening out there, man. Blinded by info-graphics that offer little useful information, I turn to my BBC iPhone app for actual news.
Australia’s East Coast has been devastated by floods and now braces for Cyclone Yasi—perhaps the biggest in known history. Floods have become commonplace Brazil, where they recently elected a TV clown whose stage name translates to “Grumpy” and who campaigned with the slogan “It Can’t Get Any Worse.” Tunisians rose up against 23 years of repression with what’s become known as the Jasmine Revolution. And in Egypt, thousands are taking to the streets with U.S.A-made tear gas to protest 30 years under the iron thumb of Hosni Mubarak.
Sifting through links on Twitter, I read about (and re-Tweet) riots giving way to the ransacking of the famed Egyptian Museum, where “two mummies were reportedly beheaded” (this later turned out to be an exaggeration) and I’m struck by something: I’m a little jealous of Egypt.
Wouldn’t a little uprising be nice? You know, getting up and standing up for something you believe in so much, you’d fight—and risk dying—for it. Just thinking about it is like a shot of epinephrine—and suddenly something that is gruesome and tragic and that I know nothing about provides a strange extrinsic euphoria. Wrapped in the warmth of cheap fleece I drift to safe sleep, smiling at puerile fantasies of impassioned speeches shouted over the chorused chants of mobilized droves; candlelit plans for a heroic coup; cigars and khaki pants and wheatpasted posters a la the French summer of ’68.
I wake up a few hours later. The Snuggie is no match for the settling Kula cold. The TV’s still on, throwing strobes of gradient blue on the far wall, as clips keep flickering and the ticker keeps ticking. The world seems consumed by wrath. Natural disaster. Political upheaval. Human strife. All, naturally, set to commercials.
Commercials for cars. Body wash. Orange juice. Reverse mortgages. Mascara. Workout videos. Snuggies. Commercials like the one for the FPS/TPS game Call of Duty: Black Ops, which features Kobe Bryant alongside actors playing regular folk, shootin’ ’em up in their civy uniforms, Cold War style. It ends with the words “there’s a soldier in all of us.” Online chatter shows that most have defended this commercial when some have called it a tasteless trivialization of our service people’s sacrifice. The commercial’s supporters argue that people are smart enough to know how to separate fantasy from reality, and that real soldiers generally like the game. I’m not a gamer, and certainly no soldier, but I am wracked with guilt by the fact that I can sit on my parent’s cushy couch and push buttons at a big screen without having to give so much as a fleeting thought as to how my freedoms were won.
Instead, I’ve fantasized about fake fray. I’ve wished for something worth fighting for when it’s been all around me, and the only thing missing has been my will.
The commercials have paused. The news is back on. A celebrity enters rehab. A little girl’s gone missing. It’s snowing. It’s sunny. The stock market is up, is down, is all around. But I cannot look. Instead I watch the wadded waffle cone wrapper slowly unfurl, and feel sick. ■