Monday, July 07, 2008

Lower classes don't know what they really want, or Happy Independence Day

In the subway today I picked up the free newspaper Metro. It had a column by Katri Manninen, Paljon Onnea Orjavaltio! (Happy Birthday, Slave State!). "Why, thank you," I thought.

While I have never felt any personal guilt about slavery in the US (never owned a single slave myself, or voted for slavery, I swear), I can well understand black people wanting to remind us about it every once in a while. We have a whole Black History Month for that every year. It is a lot less clear to me why Katri Manninen would like to do the same, especially considering that the American readership of the Finnish-language Metro is probably somewhat limited.

She doesn't talk about it much, though. She starts with informing us that that the equality that the Declaration of Independence mentioned in 1776 did not at first apply to women and black slaves. As opposed to, I suppose, all those other countries in 1776, who did not have our Declaration of Independence.

She goes on to say that it took 232 years to have the first presidential candidate who is not entirely while, and almost have had a woman candidate. I certainly hope she meant "first non-white candidate who has a good chance", since I have paid attention during the Black History month, and remember that there were several black presidential candidates from smaller parties before Obama, and black people who'd participated in primaries. Shirley Chisholm ran for the Demoratic nomination in 1972, Alan Keyes has tried to get the Republican nomination every damn time for god knows how long, and Lenora Fulani was the first black person to actually be on a ballot in all 50 states in 1988. The first woman to run for the US presidency was Victoria Claflin Woodhull in 1872.

That wasn't, however, Manninen's main point. She wanted us to know that America is still based on slave labor. Because, you know, it's hard for a poor person to get an education, and then they get low-paying jobs, and after a hard day's work they watch TV. The only purpose of the TV programming in the US is to keep people in front of it long enough to brainwash them into thinking that they are not happy without a leather sofa, vacation trip or a new car, and having to pay for all of the above keeps them in low-paying jobs.

For fuck's sake. One can like and dislike countries as one pleases, but how pathetic is it to "celebrate" an independence day of a country by writing a newspaper column about how its lower classes are slaves to television? Granted, she also says that we should all start our war of liberation with ourselves and ask ourselves whether we want to buy stuff we don't need, and understand that self-esteem cannot be bought from a store.

Well, I am glad that Katri Manninen seems to understand that lower socioeconomic classes are on average less intelligent than the middle classes, but I don't think they are quite as stupid as Manninen imagines. (And if I did, in fact, think so, I would have the sense not to say so in public.) On the basis of my admittedly limited experience I'd say that on average they are capable of understanding whether or not they really want to buy something. And people who are not aware that a TV has an "off" button tend to live in the institutions where nice nurses help them with it.

Not to mention that the line about being brainwashed into wanting a vacation trip is a bit rich coming from a person who lists travel as one of her hobbies on her webpage and whose blog's latest entries describe her five-week trip across the US from Florida to Los Angeles. I see: Katri Manninen, a Master of Arts in scriptwriting, can appropriately enjoy travel and even write about it in her blog, but my ex-supermarket-coworkers Carol and Marsha, when they feel like going to Florida to get some sun, need to be told by their betters - for example Manninen - that they have been brainwashed into that by TV and that they don't really need that trip.

(If I found the wrong person's webpage and there are two scriptwriters named Katri Manninen in Finland, they both have my most humble apologies. I, however, doubt that this is the case.)

Russia Day was about 4 weeks ago. I wonder if Manninen has written a column titled Happy Birthday, Eastern Aggressor?

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