Friday, July 31, 2009

Beyond Schadenfreude

The sun has been in Leo for over a week now and the moon is currently in Sagittarius. Both are fire signs, and therefore very passionate, and Leo is a very dramatic sign, while Sagittarius is the sign of exploration. Our outer nature will be drawn to drama and bombastic adventures, while our inner self longs to travel.

Speaking of travel, I am coming to you from the road. That's right, folks, I'm in transit from New York to Philadelphia, and thanks to yet another element, water, what should have been a two hour jaunt has turned into a five hour excursion. Still, I can't blame it all on the rain. There is a fabulously obnoxious practice that will never fail to create traffic even under the best of weather conditions.

As we crawled under the dark, pendulous clouds with gray rain sheeting around us, I suddenly saw the light. No, I had no epiphany; it was the familiar blue and red lights of a squad car. Aha! There was an accident. Being on the other side of the bus, I could not see what unfortunate event had occurred, but I did note that no sooner had we passed by that our speed began to increase and traffic seemed to disperse.

What could have possibly caused this phenomenon? There is a term that is an apt description of the situation: rubbernecking. The act of twisting one's head in order to observe and event more easily. However, when driving, that act can be very dangerous; ergo, most people will slow down in order to perform this irritating action.

What is this fascination we have with accidents? We describe other things, such as someone's outfit, this way. "It was like a train wreck. I couldn't look away." The human race is infinitely fascinated with seeing people fail. It's incredible to me. Specifically with roadside trauma, unless you are a police officer, an EMT, or some other service member who is able to assist, keep moving! Besides, if it's a big enough issue, it'll be on the news later.

Which brings up another point: why must the news be inundated with accidents, deaths, rapes, shootings, killing, murder, etc? It's so rare to hear about a good thing. The television has been referred to as the "idiot box." Why? Because it enables escape. It's supposed to free our minds; hence it being mind-less. The news does just the opposite; it smacks us in the face with reality, forcing us to acknowledge such horrible aspects of our world with wild abandon that it's overwhelming at times. I am amazed by people who can sit and watch the news all day. I go to my television to escape reality.

Reality TV shows are no better. While they don't quite provide us with "reality" as they claim, it's certainly enough of it to make me cringe. Shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance are great shows in their own right, I suppose, especially when (and if) you get to the point where everyone is incredibly talented. However, they televise the auditions and I have many friends who are uninterested in the show once the auditions are over. They love to watch people get shot down. That is not fun for me at all. People who have dreams of performing get crushed on those shows. And folks argue, "But it's good for them. Someone has to tell them that they suck." Fine, go ahead. I don't want to watch someone's dreams destroyed. I'd rather watch the last episode when someone's dreams come true.

This is beyond schadenfreude ("happiness at the misfortune of others"). I admit that, when watching a movie, I want to see the bad guy get what's coming to him, but it's not exciting to me to see the the average human being harmed for the entertainment of others. And roadside accidents are certainly not for the entertainment of others, but people certainly seem to view it that way. If you're one of those people who has to watch to see what happened, fine, but pull over! Otherwise, drive on!

The drama of misfortune has its appeal, but I prefer to attend such an event when it's planned and brilliantly written, rather than accidental or shallow. Perhaps the sun in Leo will not let us get away with banal tragedy. Yet, Leo's sun is playful as well and as I finish this blog, I can see it winking at me from behind the clouds.

Here comes the sun.


  1. I agree with your views 100% I'm a fan of American Idol, but dislike the audition episodes. I watch them only to try to pick out THE ONE, but shudder at the cruelty of the producers.

    By the way - I popped in to say that I got your book (thanks for the prompt delivery) and am thoroughly enjoying it. I'm not an avid reader these days (but I used to be) it takes a lot to hold my interest. You are managing to do that very well indeed!

    I'm only about half-way through "Rising Sign" at the moment, looking forward to the second half.
    What a great plot idea, and using astrology - such a refreshing change !

    I'm already visualising a TV or movie version! :-)

  2. Twilight,
    Agreed. Sometimes, there's unnecessary cruelty in the delivery of criticism.
    I'm thrilled to hear that the book reached you safely AND that you're enjoying it. It always warms the heart to hear that your work is appreciated, especially by an expert in the field! It's a dream come true just to have the book as a physical presence, but of course, a TV or movie version would be incredible. :)
    Thank you again for your kind words of support. Looking forward to hearing your opinion once you finish!