If I had to make a list of my all-time favorite early 90’s Coen brother movies where a major plot point revolved around the off-screen murder of a sexually ambigious gangster played by Steve Buscemi, “Miller’s Crossing” would definitely rank number one. This movie had it all — noir dialect, double, triple, and quadruple crossing, a hilariously murderous Jon Polito, shootouts involving men in extremely well-tailored suits — but perhaps it’s best quality was the alternate universe it created. To wit, most crime dramas contain characters that never actually existed, but could have. “Miller’s Crossing,” on the other hand, was full of people who couldn’t have existed at any time. While these characters seemed realistic enough, no one has ever acted, thought, talked, or dressed like the people involved in its plot, and no one ever will.
This characteristic takes the typical voyeurism associated with movie watching to a peculiar place; you immediately recognize each character as human but slowly realize they’re completely unlike any human you’ve ever known. You stop trying to “figure them out” because, well, you can’t. Their motivations and inspirations are completely alien. Their up is our down, their black is our white, and all we can do is watch.
Oddly enough, I noticed this same type of dichotomous feeling this past week as I watched “Battle Breezy 2012” unfold around the blogosphere, on Twitter, and in Facebook status messages. While this extended melee had many different factions, the most dogmatic (and most vocal) were split into two camps:
1. People disgusted by the fact that some people have…
A) Been quick to pretend Chris Brown didn’t beat Rihanna to a pulp three years ago.
B) Been quick to “forgive” Chris Brown for beating Rihanna to a pulp despite the fact that he hasn’t really seemed too (publicly) remorseful. (In fact, you can argue that he’s been outright defiant)
C) Repeatedly dismissed the assault and the apparent lack of remorse as no big deal.
D) Become even bigger fans of Breezy after the aforementioned assault and defiance. You can argue that he’s actually a bigger star now than he was three years ago.
2. The people described in A, B, C, and D. (Or, for short, “The Idiots.”)
Interestingly enough, the scolding frustration felt by people in “Camp 1” had less to do with Chris Brown himself than the fact that they just didn’t/don’t understand how The Idiots think. Breezy may be the title character, but The Idiots/#teamBreezy are the main antagonists. To the folks in Camp 1, continuing to support a man like that is the complete antithesis to everything they believe. You have a better chance of convincing them that the world is flat than getting them to understand the motivation and inspiration behind a #teambreezy hashtag.
Let’s put it this way: If Chris Brown lost all of his fans and money, was resoundly shunned by the entertainment industry, became a national pariah, and then had a comeback that resulted in a Grammy award-winning album, I don’t think Camp 1 would be as fervently opposed to him being granted a second chance. In fact, Camp 1 might not even exist.
Battle Breezy 2012 is far from unique in this regard. There have been numerous cases — Paterno at Penn State, R. Kelly, etc —- where, as disgusted as people were by the actions (or, in Paterno’s case, inactions) of the main characters, they were even more disgusted by the number of people not only not disgusted, but joyfully circling the wagons. In a self-perpetuating cycle, Camp 1’s form because they become disgusted by the number of Gotdamn Idiots that keep popping up, and the push back the Gotdamn Idiots feel from the Camp 1’s makes their already haughty fanaticism even more intense…making the Camp 1’s even more disgusted and unwavering.
Yet, as is the case with most cases like this, the anger and angst felt by most in Camp 1 slowly began to diminish as time passed on. You will undoubtedly find less people willing to talk and/or write about Battle Breezy 2012 today than you would have on Monday.
You can say that this slow but steady decrease is usually due to discussion fatigue or today’s accelerated news cycle, but I think they just began to come to the same realization: You just can’t understand why Idiots act and think like The Idiots. Why? Well…they’re Idiots (!!!), and trying to comprehend why Idiots do idiotic things and think idiotic thoughts is like asking a cotton pillow why it’s not a silk pillow or a watermelon. Up is down, black is white, and Idiots will always continue not to understand why they’re not right.
Damon Young is the co-founder of the award-winning site Very Smart Brothas and co-author of Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime.” Follow him on Twitter: @verysmartbros