Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Oh I Just Don't Know Where To Begin

Accidents will happen, that's what Elvis Costello will tell you. I can tell you, as a parent and an elementary school teacher, that there are precious few "accidents." When that fourth grade boy comes up to me on the playground and tells me that he "accidentally kicked the ball over the fence," I feel compelled to wait him out. Was it really an accident? If so, what part of standing next to the fence and kicking a ball as hard as he could into the air was an accident? The unexpected consequence of the ball actually clearing the fence and landing in the street? Having to walk over to me and ask if I could please go and fetch the ball that he accidentally launched over the fence into the street? There wasn't a lot in that experience that was truly unpredictable.
That is the kind of accident that occurred on the Pacific Coast highway last Saturday. A woman was killed when an SUV hit a car that then swerved into oncoming traffic, which then collided with another car, killing the driver. Accidents will happen, Elvis reminds us, we only hit and run. In this case, there wasn't a lot of running because there were plenty of witnesses. Some of them may or may not have been paparazzi, so there were plenty of cameras. Witnesses too. The driver of the SUV was Bruce Jenner. You remember Bruce Jenner? The Olympic Decathlon Champion of the 1976 games. The World's Greatest Athlete. Or maybe you know him better as Mister Kardashian. That might explain the paparazzi. Olympic athletes get their share of press, but reality TV stars are another matter completely.
Paparazzi take their name from the whirring sound of their cameras, not unlike the buzzing of mosquitoes. As insect comparisons go however, it might be more appropriate to compare them to moths hovering around a flickering flame. Perhaps not anecdotally, moth's wings are flammable. If a paparazzo gets punched in the face or run over, it's not an accident. It's an occupational hazard. When an innocent bystander gets killed because they are trying to stay out of the way of a group of photographers chasing the latest story about the newest candle in the wind. That candle isn't blameless in this metaphor. If Bruce Jenner had chosen to take his private struggle and keep it private, then that trip up the PCH could have been a leisurely Saturday drive. It wasn't because there was added drama. The kind of drama that comes with being part of a machine that makes chasing around and being famous simply because you're willing to put your personal lives in front of many of the same cameras from which you flee seem normal. And that's no accident.

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