27. July 2007 · Comments Off on Fallout · Categories: General, GWOT, Iraq, Media Matters Not, Stupidity, War, World

Well, it took about a day longer than I estimated for the Beauchamp-TNR kerfuffle-du-jour to expand to the size of the Hindenburg, metaphorically speaking, and then explode like a couple of wads of dubble-bubble chewing gum once the upper expansion limits had been reached.

Wow, look at all that sticky pink stuff all over the place… some of that is stuck in places and on people who will probably never be able to peel it off of themselves and go about their business as usual. Having written and published the “Shock Troops” pieces is a richly deserved embarrassment, but I don’t think the two most responsible parties will ever acknowledge that their own actions had a part in bringing on the landslide-quantities of fall-out. I imagine they will find some handy other party to blame it all on.

But I can almost bring myself to feel kind of sorry for young Pvt. Beauchamp, and Franklin Foer; it’s all a jolly good game, until someone gets hurt. And no one ever starts out intending to put themselves under the million-eyed, coldly analytical publicly-wielded CAT-scan that is the blogosphere. The inexperienced editor of stalwart and once-respected legacy media magazine probably had no idea of the firestorm that would erupt, once milbloggers and veterans began looking carefully into “Scott Thomas’s” curious accounts of vehicular canine-icide, trash-talking in the dining facility, and games with dead things.

If all one knows of the military life is the movies… especially Vietnam-War movies, such an account must have seemed quite credible. Sad to know that of all the staff at a mag like TNR, there was no one on hand with any sort of experience in the military in the last twenty years or so, who could take a look and say, “Look, there’s something not quite right about this.” Or even to do as Cpl. Blondie did, when she read about running over dogs with a Bradley. Which was to fall about laughing, and then to say, “Whatta pile of bull-s**t!”

And as for Private Beauchamp; I don’t think even the most relentless narcissist really would enjoy having their Myspace page fisked down to the sub-atomic level, and their own person, and every shred of their writings relentlessly and coldly analyzed by thousands of strangers. But then again… he put it all out there, on Myspace and in the TNR. . Made no real secret of wanting to be the next Wilfred Owen/Ernest Hemmingway, but comes off as a haphazardly educated, very bright, self-centered young idiot with an elevated sense of his own talent and not a shred of sense. He is still young enough to grow out of it; honestly a lot of people his age are idiots, but most of them improve over time, and exposure to real world of consequences.

And he sucks as a writer, too, which is even sadder. He doesn’t have that certain gift; that way of “seeing” that a writer has to have. Oh, you can have the vocabulary, you can sling together the sentences, and it all will parse on the page, but unless you can “see into” other people, and sense how they think, and deal with their foibles and take on their voices, your words all fall rather flat. Intuition, empathy, whatever you call it; if you have it, you can create people on a page, you can write about a place or an event and make it so other people can see and feel it also. Good writers, good story-tellers have that, but narcissists can only fake it for a little bit, about as far as Pvt. Beauchamp did. What a waste of time and tuition, and TNR’s reputation, just to mince up and re-hash outtakes from “Full Metal Jacket” and “Platoon”, for the titillation of the readers. And what a waste for the magazine. Of all the milbloggers on active-duty tours in Iraq, Mr. Foer had to select this unconvincing, unobservant fabulist, and throw his magazine’s authority behind him… because his wife/significant other worked there. How lame. What a smack in the face to the hundreds or even the thousands of better writers among currently serving milbloggers.

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