Wednesday, February 20, 2013

And Your Little Dog, Too!

“This isn’t a breed you train. He’s like a human. You befriend him.” -- Ernesto Lara

Don't take this the wrong way, but news of Mindy McCready's suicide barely made a dent in my day, and I wasn't alone. Most of America didn't give much of a flip about Ms. McCready, her music, or her incredibly troubled life of addiction and illness. I come to this conclusion because it's pretty clear the only people who even reached out to her were still trying to milk her for some money. (Yes, Dr. Drew, you suck.)

Comparing McCready’s death to that of any famous musician whose untimely and unfortunate death might or might not have rocked the music world is virtually guaranteed to render her a mere blip on the radar screen. Being an 18-year-old cute gal with a single platinum-selling country music album is practically semi-annual event, and being a platinum-selling starlet whose follow-up albums sink quickly into crappy insignificance isn’t unique.

Her death, like all human deaths, and especially those from unnatural causes, was still tragic.

She left behind two children. Some could argue she left them behind long ago, maybe even before they were born, preferring her substances to her offspring. Her boyfriend killed himself, too. Her life, it seems, pretty much just sucked.

The most tragic part of the story, however, comes in seeing how others react to it. My indifference to her death, it seems, is one of the more humane options. Once again, the ability to see people’s comments in the Social Media 2.0 world leaves me thinking less of us as a species than I would otherwise.

Did you know what, in this celebri-tragedy, seems to upset the most people? That Mindy shot her dog first. A woman is dead. Her children motherless. And people get their panties and undies in a wad because she shot the damn dog.

Wanna know who the real problem is? Banana Joe’s “trainer,” that’s who. Ernesto Lara and anyone who wishes they were him:
from the New York Times article linked above: 
“Like any comedian, when he’s in a situation, he doesn’t think it’s funny,” Lara said. “He doesn’t know his size or that he has a pushed-in face. Once you live with one, you know that’s the standard. They need a comic seriousness.”

Like most handlers asked to describe their champion dogs, Lara said that Joey was aware of what he was doing and enjoyed pleasing the crowd.

“He’s smarter than you think,” Lara said. “He knows when it’s showtime.”
News flash. Banana Joe isn’t a comedian. Banana Joe doesn’t have comic f*#king seriousness. Banana Joe isn’t aware that he’s a superstar. And no, dammit, Banana Joe isn't going to write a tell-all novel via telepathic dictation to his “trainer-who-doesn’t-train.” Ernesto Lara has no more clue what Banana Joe "feels" than I do, not on any level that would make Banana Joe any more humanoid than the possum you ran over on the way home tonight (Hint: It felt pain. Probably. Beyond that, we won't know).

It’s one thing to love animals. I respect a healthy love of all God's creatures. But glory hallelujah, it’s a whole nother thing to be batshit nuts. Please, please, keep your love of animals on the sane side of Crazy River. If you’re gonna mourn for McCready’s dog by going to Ruth’s Criss and eating a filet, please at least be aware of your laughable hypocrisy.

And if you would shed more tears for Banana Joe running in front of a bus (because it failed to perfect its “comedic timing”) than you do for a washed-up country singer, may God have mercy on your misanthropic soul.*

* -- It’s only natural and understandable to grant lenience for one’s own pet. Although I would still sacrifice my own dog if it could save a washed-up country singer, it at least registers on the radar of sanity to be irrationally emotionally attached to one’s own pet. It’s when this insanity extends to the pet of a washed-up suicidal country music singer where we, as a culture, deserve electroshock.


Bob said...

I side with the dog people. Of course, it is not a case of either/or because the whole situation is tragic, but the dog being caught up in this is compelling and, for me, a definite shocking detail I didn't know about. I guess you didn't see Old Yeller, dances With Wolves, The road Warrior, castaway, or the untold other stories where the death of the animal (or volleyball) resonates particularly strongly with the audience. Of course it's irrational. What isn't? That does not make it any less powerful, nor does that make it a wrong response.

G. B. Miller said...

I read about the dog shooting the other day, and while it is pretty sad and tragic, let's not forget for one moment that she was a very troubled soul. Perhaps she does deserve our sympathy, perhaps she doesn't. In any event, a mother is dead, done in by her own demons and two children are now sans parents.

Billy said...

@Bob - Your examples all involve the animals (or volleyballs) as characters in a narrative. And the animals aren't even cameos. They're central characters. Our connection to these characters is built up over the narrative. I cried at E.T., and aliens aren't even real (at least not in that form).

But I'm not comparing my reaction to fictional characters' deaths to real death because it's not a fair comparison. I'm comparing the death of a living person to the death of a living dog. No one getting upset about Mindy's dog knows anything about it, not even what breed it is, or what it looks like. It couldn't get any more vague. It is just "a dog." Yet people are more upset about "death of amorphous dog" than they are anything else in the story.

People are anthropomorphizing real-life animals -- mostly just the cute ones that make great characters in Disney films -- and allowing themselves to get more moved by their misfortunes than what befalls us.

P.S. It's likely McCready killed her dog so it could be with her in death, which is not uncommon, especially amongst suicidal women. It likely wasn't a Hannibal act of murderous joy but something quite different. And yes, it's far better that she was with her dog in her moment of despair than her children, although you could hardly sense that from the stupid comments of those who, as you say, "side with the dog."

troutking said...

I agree with Billy, but that may be because I have absolutely no use for dogs. Can't stand 'em.

I also like that Billy called Ruth's Chris steak house "Ruth's Criss" for two reasons: 1) Ruth's Chris is a stupid name for a steakhouse and 2) Ruth's Criss would be a great restaurant if all the waiters were dressed up in makeup like Peter Criss from Kiss. And oh how awesome it would be if his Kiss character was Dogman instead of Catman. So close!