[The following editorial appears in New Blood #33, Kahvi #2, Two-Spear #2, Jink #9, and The Rebels #10. --MK]
October 4, 1995.
Uh-oh. Time for a massive reality check. It's being a strange week, and it's only half over.
Brain-stopper #1 - Hey nonny nonny! Did you notice we made the October 2, 1995 cover of TIME magazine?
Well, sort of, anyway. This is the sort of trompe l'oeil that causes accidents in crowded supermarkets as the unsuspecting ELFQUEST publisher, on his way from the salsa aisle to the bagels-'n'-cream-cheese aisle, casually glances over at the magazine rack, does a double take, comes to a sreeching halt and causes a six cart pileup in front of register ten. If I were in a stretching mood, I could say that this represents the first tip of the hat by TIME magazine on a cover to comics since Superman turned 50 half a dozen or so years ago. But that would require a huge leap of faith and imagination - nearly as great as to deal with...
Brain-stopper #2 - Yesterday the Verdict of the Century was announced. Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear (to quote another high-profile individual who, excuse the colloquialism, got away with murder). I don't want to use this forum to subject you, the ELFQUEST reader, to any particular personal feelings I may be nurturing about the stunning verdict rendered in the O.J. Simpson double murder trial. It would be inappropriate for me to editorialize about whether or how well the legal teams as well as the jury ignored the race-related issues in this case. It would serve no real purpose to point out the massed idiocies in procedure that have so far allowed two lives to be lost in vain.
No, what's really got me shaking my head and saying "Whaaa-?!" is the realization that while "The Trial of the Century" may be over, the media horror show of the millennium may actually just have begun. Unlike many folks, I caught my bits and pieces of the proceedings on the radio driving to and from work, and then only when I happened to be listening at the top of the hour. I studiously avoided television's attempt to dress this scarecrow up in fine computer-generated clothes. I attempted successfully, at times - to hold down my gorge at the sleaziness of those on both sides who exploited and profited by the pain and terror of others.
Trial of the Century? Come off it! If it weren't for the greed and self-deception of both the providers of media and the consumers of media (which is the chicken and which the egg?) this battle royal - like so many other recent "high profile" affairs - would have been over in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. It would not have pervaded every aspect of life in this country to the point where it was not simply a trial, but an invasion, a rape of good sense. And for what? As much as I can try to imagine the terror of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman as they were brutally murdered, and as much as I can try to feel the pain of their families, this was not about the solution of the mystery of their deaths. It was ultimately about ratings.
Trial of the Century? That's a banner you reserve for events that significantly change the course of history, of culture, of life. How about the Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925, which ultimately led to the overthrow of the Tennessee law banning the teaching of evolution. Or Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1954, which sparked the civil rights movement in this country. How about Roe v. Wade in 1973, for crying out loud? These are legal and social struggles deserving of the attention of every sane, intelligent human being in the country. These are the landmarks people ought to be familiar with, not some sideshow of low-speed chases and knit caps.
(Hey, I never said I wasn't going to rant about the circus of the trial, only about the verdict.)
The reason for this, as I intimated with the TIME cover at the start, is that this is turning into Reality Check week for me. You see, the O.J. verdict came in yesterday, October 3. How many people-hours, I wonder, have been spent in the past year and some months in rapt and morbid attention to the strangeness leading up to this event?
Today is October 4. I wish for the sake of closure that the jury had taken just one more day in their deliberations, but c'est la vie. How many people recall what this day is known for? How many of you know that, on this day in 1957, the Russian satellite Sputnik was launched and the human species took its first small step away from the planet that birthed us. How many, I have to wonder, know that October 4 marks the anniversary of the single defining event between homo sapiens as a planetbound creature, and humankind as a potential star traveling race.
It freaked people out nearly forty years ago, and galvanized us as a country and a culture. Was there any media coverage of the anniversary? Are violence and mediocrity the only things that matter any more?
"Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world..."
Skeeter Davis, sometime in the 1960s
The millennium is coming, folks. Where are we boldly going? Do we look down, or up? How about a different take on the lyric...
"It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine. "
R.E.M., sometime in the 1990s
Richard A Pini