January 5, 2009

Chicken Soup, Canned

Canadian columnist Heather Mallick is one of my favourite editorialists but I'd lost track of her for a while. I spent four years pouring obsessively over two of the pulpy dailies, and then I took an extended leave. I am sorry, Heather.

She wrote this article a few days ago, which I read today and wanted to link to as an extension to my previous posts where I mention my "deflowered" capacity for sentimentality (here), and my pot shots at Oprah (there). Oprah has recently found herself yet again unwittingly promoting a memoir that turns out to have been significantly fictionalized. One of those great "true love conquers all" stories. Mallick writes:
[Winfrey] has made the managerial mistake of hiring people too much like herself, people so relentlessly high on self-belief and inspiration that skepticism must hide its face in shame at story meetings.

This is why she so often falls for the lure, indeed the syrupy narcotic allure, of sentiment. It's human, it's understandable and, to a certain extent, it's even praiseworthy.
She continues the article on the theme of how emotionally powerful the pull of sugared stories are, and on the strange twists such sanitized fictions take in the minds of the susceptible. (That includes me, sometimes. Diaper commercial babies can make me tear up on a bad day.)

After a few days of reading news updates and editorials on the Gaza situation, I'm even less a fan of cheap sentimentality lately. And by supporting wholesale the Israeli government's position against the Hamas, never mind the repression and starvation of Gaza civilians by Israeli blockades, Obama has already cast off his aura of enlightenment and oratory tokens towards unity. The political climate he's been elected into tends to support naked emperors.

Uhm, the title of this post makes more sense if you read the Mallik piece. Read it!

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