A disturbing litany of minor quibbles, irksome qualms, and outrageous injustices
It's hard to believe it now, but there was once a time when hatred was an emotion we tried to suppress, mitigate or otherwise hide. And then came cable news.
With the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, hatred became more accessible and more entertaining than ever when the cable-news roundtable emerged as the great battlefield upon which the decisive political and ideological struggles of our time were to be decided — with animosity, rancor and outright rage as the weapons of choice.
Not necessarily a bad development. As Darth Vader instructed Luke Skywalker just moments before slicing off his hand and sending him plummeting to his apparent death, we must learn to "release our anger." Fans of the trilogy might remember Vader "releasing his anger" on the millions of innocent inhabitants of the planet Alderaan — a bit drastic, to be sure. But given that hatred is now in style, and given the poignancy of the Dark Lord's words, I think it's time for me to do a little releasing of my own.
First and foremost, I hate Starbucks. Only Starbucks could have the audacity to charge $3.50 for a small cappuccino while considering it an act of magnanimity to hand out free cups of indigestible black coffee during two inconvenient hours on a random weekday in March. Even more despicable is the reason it charges $3.50 — not because it's particularly difficult or expensive to churn out venti soy machiattos, but because Starbucks is a particularly trendy place to drink them. Call it a "trendiness premium."
I hate MTV. The once influential, once revolutionary all-music network is now a smoldering pit of cultural decay so disgustingly commercialized that it rattles my very faith in a commercial and capitalist economy. Granted, I'm no fan of collective farms. But the latest episode of "Laguna Beach"? I'll take the farm.
And, as much as it pains me to write this, I hate Downtown Silver Spring; from the line snaking out of Cold Stone to the middle-school students and upcounty kids (James Hubert Blake, I'm looking at you) who claim it as their hangout. And, of course, I hate that it contains two Starbucks within about three blocks of each other.
I hate iPods. More specifically, I hate how iPods have turned from convenient music players to an appendage no different from, but far less useful than, an extra arm or leg. Indeed, it would be very convenient for some people to have their iPods grafted into their skin and powered by a constant flow of body heat. But Pod-people needn't worry: The real world probably isn't as interesting as whatever it is they're listening to, anyway.
But on to weightier topics. In case you couldn't tell, I hate the tenor of political discussion in this country. Ironically, I hate it because our policymakers and commentators are so ready to hate — so ready to condemn, criticize, carp and dissect, and so eager to mindlessly oppose anything vaguely out of sync with what they believe to be politically prudent or ideologically correct. What we have is a system overloaded with opportunism and under-loaded with real ideas, and with attempts by both Democrats and Republicans to redraw congressional districts to eliminate any chance of open or unpredictable elections, the politicking and grandstanding are only going to get worse.
There are, of course, more things that I hate. They include, but are by no means limited to:
•Metro: It took me 45 minutes to get from Glenmont to Silver Spring the other day. That's three stops. Three. In 45 minutes.
•Instant Messenger: Too convenient and way too time consuming.
•The United Nations: "Collective security"? Not for a few million Darfuris, I guess.
•The first two "Lord of the Rings" movies: An incomprehensible plot at a snail's pace. Five hours of my life that I will never get back.
•Four Corners: A half-dozen bus stops, four traffic lights, two schools, a post office, a highway on-ramp, a gigantic church and a shopping center. Somebody really should have thought this one through.
But hatred isn't a particularly enjoyable impulse unless you get your kicks from destroying planets or arguing politics. Vitriol and negativity, though entertaining in moderation, can only get you so far in life — although they do count for something on cable news.
Which I hate.
Armin Rosen. Armin is a Seeeeenyor in the Communication Arts Program. "I am a journalist and, under the modern journalist's code of Olympian objectivity (and total purity of motive), I am absolved of responsibility. We journalists don't have to step on roaches. All we have to do … More »