Daily Archives: November 6, 2007

One of Those Little Things

As an indicator of where the zeitgeist is regarding waterboarding, I do find it instructive that when I made a waterboarding joke in the previous entry, there were quickly a couple of comments along the line of “well, no one deserves waterboarding,” followed by some sort of suggestion of another form of torture for humorous affect. Meaning, I suspect, waterboarding is having a “too soon?” moment, where where it’s just not funny, partly because most people seem to believe it’s actually torture, except the administration, and it’s vaguely embarrassing to have the President and all his pals not know what all the rest of us do.

Of course, a large chunk of the population also is iffy on evolution, so just because most people think things are one way or another (or don’t think it’s one way or another) doesn’t make it so. In all cases it helps to have an expert opinion. Here’s one on the subject: a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California, who is quite intimate on the details of waterboarding, because he’s performed it hundreds of times for training purposes. He says waterboarding is, well, torture:

There is No Debate Except for Torture Apologists

1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.

2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

I’ve not been waterboarded personally — call it a quirk of mine not to want it for myself — but I’m willing to believe this guy probably knows what he’s talking about, possibly more than others, including the people who maintain it’s not really torture. When a guy who trains soldiers to handle torture says something is torture, it’s worth giving credence to that particular data point. Although I suspect some people won’t. I think that’s kind of funny.

In Today’s Edition of “When Critics Overthink”

I present to you a Los Angeles Times music reviewer trying to salvage his own personal idea of self-worth by declaring Miley Cyrus (aka “Hannah Montana”) a “young experimental artist”:

The entire show operated at a frenzied fever pitch, but its David Cronenberg-like climax came right before the encore, when the regular girl sang a duet with her famous alter ego, who’d disappeared from the stage but now reappeared on the screen of a giant video monitor.

Which of us is more real, the artist seemed to be asking the audience, about half of which consisted of perplexed-looking adults obviously confounded by the performer’s sophisticated interrogation of our current media moment.

Either one of two things are going here: Either critic Mikael Wood is has his tongue well in cheek, in which case this is moderately amusing, or he’s totally serious, in which case he should be grabbed off the street, hustled into some dark room, and waterboarded ’til dawn by Robert Hilburn and the ghost of Lester Bangs. Also, if this is the case, one wonders how much mileage he might get out of, say, The Parent Trap.

Honestly, though, even if Wood is just taking the piss here, there’s a certain point at which you draw back from the precipice; with lines like “Cyrus utilizes television’s simulacrum of reality to depict a version of herself that’s lifelike enough to make you care about her,” Wood has hurled himself well into the inky darkness, and all that’s left is to wait for the muted splat, signifying the bone-powdering impact of his snarky cheekiness against the dark and smooth basalt floor of unintentional pretension.

Either way, a note to Wood: Dude. You’re reviewing a concert of a 14-year-old actress singing bubblegum pop. Please, get a grip. Otherwise when you’re forced go review the Cheetah Girls and you start blabbering about Rousseau in the review, someone is going to find you and stab you in right the eye. Really, it’s for your own safety.