man once accused of murder was asked why he had killed several people, and
he answered simply, "Some people need to be killed."
That's probably going a bit too far, but a related idea might work, and it could even teach something to those on the losing end.
In short, some people need to be slapped.
I dont have the nerve or the upper body strength to do the slapping myself, and Im not saying that anyone should go out and do it for me. Still, its only honest to admit that the need exists.
This begs the question of exactly who should be slapped? Evil bosses, obnoxious fellow commuters on public transportation and treacherous exes deserve more imaginative, personalized punishments.
The slap is a more generic treatment. One size hits all, if you will. Bland on bland.
Those who need it most are the creatures of media and celebrity culture, where the least irregularity is filtered out to keep us from channel surfing at full speed. In this situation to be innocuous is to be invulnerable. He who has the lowest negatives wins.
My preliminary and only list is led by Leonardo DiCaprio (the one who drowns in the movie), David Schwimmer (the, ahem, "Friend"), and Tyson (the male supermodel, not the chicken processor and corporate campaign contributor). They are probably decent enough human beings who dont torture children or animalsor slap anyone themselvesbut they are too, too something. "Perfect" may or may not be the right word; we men don't have to endure the same arbitrary standards of beauty as women. All three differ greatly in body type, complexion, and height.
"Symmetrical" may work better.
They could be called "soft," but that sounds like homophobia, like calling them mamas boys. But I dont know anythingand dont want to know anythingabout their respective mothers or sexualities. Besides, Freddie Mercury and Allen Ginsberg never struck me as soft.
What sets these three apart, then, is a certain smoothness, an inability to produce friction. Each is an oiled ball bearing in the machinery of media and celebrity culture in a way that Humphrey Bogart and Elvis Presley, while they were alive, could never be. Perhaps Noam Chomsky or Neil Postman will do my dirty work for me.
Not everyone in the public eye needs this treatment. Even some of the most self-evidently smooth can be spared. CNN weatherman Flip Spiceland must have fought his way from the schoolyard more than once on account of his name. Even before the onset of Parkinsons Michael J. Fox had already suffered enough. In the first place, hes Canadian, and second, he was forever branded the "anti-Elvis" by Mojo Nixon.
The frictionless three, though, and others like them, have no such excuse. Pure surface, they slip by us as smoothly as glossy magazine pages or fresh rolls of film, which is as close as most of us will ever get to them. A good slap might crinkle the page or scratch the frame with evidence of three dimensions instead of two. The Velveteen Rabbit experienced this kind of redemption after being rubbed bare in patches, and losing an eye. He became real.
J.D. SMITHs work has been published in The Hypothetical Landscape (Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series) and the edited anthology Northern Music: Poems About and Inspired by Glenn Gould (John Gordon Burke, Publisher). Twice nominated for Pushcart Awards, his writing, in several genres, has appeared in journals including Chelsea, Connecticut Review, Literal Latte and Pleiades. His play 'Dig' has been produced by the Squaresville Theatre Company of Chicago.