Kim Jong-il Redux or the two sides to the same coin

The front page of today’s Washington Post shows a picture of the Redskins winning against the New York Giants, in the corner it mentions the North Korea’s Kim Jong-il’s death.1 Celebrating a Redskin’s win is no more odd than the hand wringing Kim Jong-il’s death is causing among North Korea watchers. This is similar to comparing the odd belief that a god would be interested in professional sports2 and the odd reaction that North Korean state television showed of Pyongyang’s residents openly weeping after hearing of Kim Jong-il’s death. Mass hysteria is odd no matter the reason. North Koreans crying streams of tears are as heartfelt as sinners overcome with joy at a tent revival. One can ignore these sentiments at their peril; human emotional responses may not be rational, but they sure as shit are genuine. Extremely genuine when supported by either a nation-state’s or an established religious institution’s propaganda machine.

Rationality definitely doesn’t come into play when one thinks that a platform shoe wearing despot is a god, or when one thinks a god wants to see Tebowing. Rationality and irrationality just might be two sides to the same coin.3 This irrationality of men as gods and those same gods’ interests in sports causes me to wonder which will have more lasting effects on the world: a football game win or the death of a dictator of a nuclear armed country with penis envy.

Opinions on Kim Jong-il’s death are going to fly in the world’s media. Speculation on Kim Jong-un’s4 ability as his successor will be the topic of the day. South Koreans are going to wonder and discuss. The truth will not be known until Kim Jong-un’s handlers/supporters take some action. Opinions on his death will be as deep-seated and varied as the opinions of which is better: Apocalypse Now and Apocalypse Now Redux.

In a frightful display of questionable parenting, my dad took me to see Apocalypse Now in the theater in 1979/1980 when I was in the 5th grade.5 Naturally, I have great distaste for the Redux version. My vision of Ap Now is rooted in its original vision of Francis Ford Coppola’s retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. I don’t need odd Frenchmen hiding in their Vietnamese plantations or tangents about stranded strippers willing to provide sexual favors for security.6 I am thankful, however, that Coppola kept the cameras rolling when Martin Sheen had an alcohol and drug induced breakdown while filming the opening scenes.7 I am also thankful for Coppola introducing me to The Doors and their drug addled music. The Doors’ “The End” to me doesn’t talk about an Oedipus complex, it talks to me about napalm.8 Ap Now and Redux are two views on the best movie ever made.

Finally, to beat this “two sides” and “opinions” theme to death in an appropriate Sublimemonkey manner9… recently I heard two competing views on the war in Iraq and its potential connection to the Arab Awakening/Spring.10 One side thinks the US’ intervention in Iraq, and its somewhat quick transition to a fledgling democracy provided a blueprint to other Middle Eastern countries. Conversely, the other side argues that Iraq war, and its call-to-arms to Islamic extremists, drew undesirables to the region which then bled into other parts of the Middle East. In both cases, one has to believe that there is an actual relationship between cause and effect.

Competing opinions, visions, and cause & effect relationships are what builds the bridge between facts and beliefs. Fact: Kim Jong-il is dead, and as The Who says “meet the new boss, same as the old boss;” belief: we will get fooled again… and Kim Jong-un (or at least his handlers) will be the culprit.11

1 To be fair, the Redskins beating the Giants was far more surprising than the Head Hermit’s death.

2 God’s interest in professional sports must be mighty considering the number of overpaid ‘tards (athletes) that render her honor in the end zone, at home plate, and on the sidelines.

3 I tried to think of a better cliché; the best I could was “rationality and irrationality just might be the two sides of the same cow patty” but that would have required me to describe how one side is flat and the other one is slighty mounded… see it doesn’t work, so I went with the coin cliché.

4 I don’t know if Kim Jong-un wears platform shoes, but he did get some elite Switzerland private school learning and supposedly likes video gaming… so in my book he must be an okay guy.

5 The water buffalo sacrifice scene at the end of the movie still haunts me, but conversely I was exposed to Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelungs… I have been a Wagner fan ever since, but not the kind of “fan” King Ludwig II of Bavaria was.

6 This is what Redux adds to the Ap Now story and, in my mind, have no bearing on the fairy tale Coppola provided me in the 5th grade.

7 Sheen’s breakdown was first revealed in the documentary about the making of Ap Now… aptly named Heart of Darkness.

8 If you have no idea why I mention Oedipus complex when referencing The Doors’ “The End” then you have never heard the unedited version where Jim Morrison starts screaming “mother, I want to fuck you!”

9 This means I am going to string together obviously unconnected things in a totally inappropriate manner and cause you to wonder how in the fuck I got from Kim Jong-il to the Arab Spring while throwing Apocalypse Now in the middle.

10 I just wish we (media/analysts) would pick a term and stick with it.

11 Was going to end this post with some obscure Ap Now quote, but I figure I have proven my Ap Now fanatic status appropriately enough.


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