“Fox as we’re a bunch of foxy chicks. Force as we’re a force to be reckoned with. Five as there’s one … two … three … four … five of us.” – Mia Wallace
I happened to watch Pulp Fiction a few days ago. I marveled that is been about 20 years since its release, and other than Bruce Willis’ high-waisted Levi’s, the movie still felt relevant.
And yet its totally irrelevant. It is, after all, fiction. It’s entertainment. The culture the movie exposed and parodied is so far removed from the lives of ordinary Americans. The intersection of characters operating at the margins of society are filled with moments of brutal and hilarious violence. When Uma Thurman tells John Travolta that she was once an actor in a pilot called Fox Force Five, it is a brilliant Tarantino moment of satire: The ridiculousness of Hollywood’s banality and glorification of violence lie within a movie that uses splattered brains, adrenalin needles and sodomy as easily as ketchup on a Royale with Cheese.
So I found it painful today while listening to MSNBC break for commercial with an upcoming roster of news stories which included a look inside a Peshmerga fighting unit comprised of women. The anchor broke away with the chirpy exclamation: “They’re mothers, they’re daughters, and they know how to swing a gat!” Fox Force Five to the rescue.
To imply that an ethnic group that is fighting for survival against a terrorist force amid one of the world’s most unstable regions somehow equates to a female bonding experience is an insult to these desperate people and to our intelligence. It is not as if they took up their “gat’s” (a seemingly cool sounding slang term meaning “gun”) because they’re in the midst of a women’s empowerment movement. It’s not a scene where Sally Field walks off the factory floor in defiance. These are people who are fighting because they know the very survival of their world depends on it.
Death and destruction has no sense of proportion on television. To lose your child in death at the hands of a violent crime is perhaps the worst trauma a parent can experience. For Chris Matthews to opine that decent jobs and rising incomes in Ferguson, Missouri would assuage the problems there shows a callous disregard for the reality at its most basic point of human existence: a person has died. That the person was a young black man gunned down for ambiguous reasons by a trigger happy white police officer is a cultural moment of reckoning, yes. But the search for complexity leads one down the dangerous path of de-sensitizing death. A member of someone’s family – a child – was killed. It is natural to be angry and sad.
When a mother and daughter take up arms in defense of their freedom, they do so with fear in their hearts. Imagine your daughter facing death by machine gun in a region that has seen its people decimated by war for the past ten years. There’s no Fox Force Five ready to save the day. It goes on. Relentlessly.