I was recently asked to write and read a piece at an event for Jennifer Worick's very funny book Things I Want to Punch in the Face. I struggled with the assignment until I wanted to punch the meme in the face.
As a martial artist and a human being, I strive to maintain a non-violent philosophy and certainly don't like to leap straight to violence as a solution to every frustration life throws at me. So let me just put myself at ease by saying right up front that I wish to punch in the face only metaphorically and not at all literally, because I am not Tagg Romney.
(Dylan Brody breaking bricks:)
With that in mind, I want to punch Microsoft Tech Support in the face and have wanted to punch Microsoft Tech Support in the face for a week and a half now. I expect to continue wanting to punch Microsoft Tech Support in the face until a second reinstallation disk arrives -- this one, unbroken in transit. Then I will probably want to punch Microsoft tech Support in the face for at least a day or two more until the installation is complete and I have begun reloading all my other software and wanting to punch other technical support groups in the face.
Let me make this clear. I do not want to punch in the face the technical support personnel with thick Bangladeshi accents and names like Gary and Sarah, even though I know it is culturally acceptable to be xenophobically racist when it is masked behind the comforting economic argument of job insecurity. No. In fact, I want to punch the casual nationalism of anti-outsourcing sentiment in the face until it softens into sympathy for the exploitation of humanity wherever it occurs.
I want to punch Microsoft in the face for its technical support set-up. I don't want to punch Bill Gates in the face. He's just a guy doing very well in a culture that rewards corporate success above all else. No, I want to punch his corporation in the face. Which I really should be able to do, given that a corporation is a person according to the Citizens United ruling. And I want to punch the Citizens United ruling in the face.
Because I do not believe corporations are people, I feel comfortable saying that I want to punch Monsanto in its genetically modified, herbicide resistant face and nobody would fault me for it because we all know that if James Bond were real, Monsanto would have blown up by now in a great, satisfying, orange and black, explosive conflagration in the third act.
I want to punch great, satisfying, orange-and-black, explosive third-act conflagrations in the face. I want to punch in the face every movie-studio that has rejected one of my character driven, relationship scripts because flawed people resolving and failing to resolve messy, complex human conflicts through subtextual exchanges of language and silence don't sell tickets like fiery explosions do and we're not making art, we're making entertainment. And I have to remind myself that I do not want to punch the twenty-something executives making those decisions in the face, because they are just human, flawed characters trying to do their jobs in a messy, less-than perfect world. Which I would like to punch in the face.
I want to punch the entertainment industry in the face for combining art and the most powerful tools of communication in the history of humanity into a system for the manufacture and distribution of mind-numbing, repetitious, self-referential, self-reverential, carefully non-inflammatory indulgences.
And tonight, when I go home, pour a glass of scotch, and like every other self-loathing sheep in this City of Nobody's Better Angels, turn on the television, I will want to punch myself in the face for my own, human weakness.