Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cultural Anthropology

Based on this news that the yellow "support our troops" ribbon motif actually got off the ground during the Indian Wars, when brave horse-mounted Custer types headed off like knights in shining armour, protecting Betty Crocker security moms back home, I'm extrapolating the early emergence of a later counter-culture, in the form of those racoon hatted Daniel Boone types, civilian trackers and company traders, who became friendly with North America's natives, intermarried.

When cultures collide, you always get these Romeo and Juliet stories wherein a younger sister or someone falls head over heels for a pagan, Roman, Jew or whatever rival ethnicity, and it's a big family crisis. One brother encourages his gang members to slay the infidel love object, while another brother, usually played as a pacifist introvert type (i.e. a sissy who better understands women) betrays the rougher bro by leaking news of this plan, resulting in an ambush of the Goody Gang and lots of remorseful suicides, including by Romeo and Juliet. Curtain. Sigh. Such a tragedy.

This pattern gets repeated in our day's Lost to some extent, in the love story between the California Babe and the Elite Republican Guard dude. But in the context of this island, with its strong magnetic fields, the predictable unfolding gets scrambled, and California Babe gets shot by the trigger happy Latina Police Chick by mistake, leaving the Iraqi Dude to mourn and eventually forgive (that's about as far as I've gotten in the series).

More predictable was the CNN banter I heard while in Florida, these Anglo pundits angsting about Iraqis and their tribal loyalties, their lack of sophistication around democracy, USAers having just proved to themselves theirs has yet to be rendered incomprehensible by an insider technocracy in charge of the voting machines (an advancing AI army, like in Terminator).

I haven't studied the history in detail, but I bet if we go back we'll find the brave Custer types were just trying to prevent all those unsophisticated Indians from killing each other, and so would side with one underdog tribe after another, just to balance things out and to prove to all doubters that the Great White Father in Washington knew how to pick a winner every time.