We Are Lying to Ourselves About Rebellion

Don’t fucking kid yourself – you’re going to fly United again. You will. Maybe not this month. Maybe not this particular Thanksgiving. But you will.

MAAAAAYBE if you’ve got some money, if you’re a frequent flier and can speak with authority on the accommodations in various VIP lounges, maybe then you will be able to freely exercise your Sparkling Consumerist Might. But I won’t. I can’t afford the extra $100 on that alternate flight that makes me feel better. Shit, I can’t afford that extra $30 (I’m usually travelling with my son, so that doubles the amount of money we’re talking about here.) I forget why we’re supposed to Never Fly Delta – I feel like that was a thing? I can’t even remember. Maybe we’ll remember this one because of the heat, but I doubt it. By this time next year, 50 or 60 trips to the internet Coliseum later, we will forget, and you will see that United is the cheapest option, and you will buy that ticket with some vague memory pulling at you.

Yesterday was a fun day for righteousness on the internet, but it’s already being tempered by investigations into that guy’s character ( I won’t link, but you can find it if you wanna.) And, as much as it was initially reviled by all the right people, the United CEO is banking on what will probably be a successful strategy: blame it all on the erratic, belligerent customer who wouldn’t do what was politely requested of him. Paste magazine is already in on this shit, but I hover over what bothers me the most about modern American life, and that is the instinct to obey and find any excuse, ANY! TEENY TINY! EXCUSE! that allows us to say, “Oh, no wonder – that guy definitely got what was coming to him.”

And, more importantly – “That will never happen to ME. *I* follow the rules!”

The list is exhausting. Every single Black man killed by police in this country could have prevented their death, we’re told. Don’t reach for the waistband, don’t play in a park, don’t hold a toy gun in WalMart while you’re on the phone, don’t tell the officer you have a concealed handgun permit while you’re hands are up, don’t talk back, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE DON’T RUN. It’s on and on and on. All these internet commandos who panic in line at a fast food place if they’re not ready to order but are certain they’d know how to handle themselves when the cops start shouting and helicopters are flying overhead.

There is a race component, sure. But the place I always go back to is the goddamned Dukes of Hazard. Those rascally Duke boys, making the cops look like idiots, TO THIS DAY plays on CMT, for an audience that can reliably be found in comments sections letting you know, “It’s simple: do what cop says, you live. Don’t do what cop says, you die #justsayin”

We used to honor rebellion in the sheets and in the streets, but that has gone away. Now we impotently cheer it on in movies, celebrating the escapism, while tsk-tsking everybody who Had It Coming. Maybe it’s Reagan’s fault, maybe it’s cable news. Maybe it’s soda. Maybe it’s the commodification of rebellion, which churned out a weaker, more socially-acceptable version, so that when real rebellion kicked its way into the room we panicked. Oooh yeah, it’s definitely that last one.



I was furious when Muhammad Ali died. Not because I was sad about his death – I was, sure, but I didn’t have the personal connection to his celebrity that I did to other gods we lost in 2016. What got me was how he died in the aftermath of the Colin Kaepernick saga, where we got to pile up all the scorching hot takes about how silent, peaceful protest was actually treason perpetuated by a spoiled millionaire.

OK, fine. Feel that way I guess. But quit your fucking crocodile tears about Muhammad Ali.

You HATE Muhammad Ali. If you were in that documentary about Ali’s court battles to fight against the draft you wouldn’t have been one of the people marching beside him. You would have been B-roll, one of the man-on-the-street interviewees calling him spoiled and un-American. You’re the bad guy and you’re not even self-aware enough to fucking know it.

I sat on my porch angrily flipping through post after post about The Greatest, from sports and politics writers who just WEEKS ago were preaching about Kaepernick’s ungrateful idiocy. It was too much to bear. It was America.


I wish I could say I would have spoken up if I was on that flight, but I probably wouldn’t have. ESPECIALLY if I had my son with me, and didn’t want to risk also being dragged off a plane and endangering him. I would have done like everybody else, grabbing for my phone while whispering, “Oh my GAWD” and recording the incident for later. Most of us wouldn’t have done shit.

Yeah, even You. I’ve been around You. You would not have done shit.

I will never understand you, America. I will never understand the dissonance. You say you love rebels, you say you love iconoclasts, and then when they show up in even the tiniest forms you shoo them away. Shit, I’m already sifting through face-melting takes from supposed liberal friends jawing about how the doctor was “exercising his privilege” and inconveniencing everybody when he could have been conforming and making everything easier. This will take hold, especially if we find out he was mean one time to somebody, and then we can go about our day. Staring straight ahead, rowdy slogans on our t-shirts, standing in line forever.


3 thoughts on “We Are Lying to Ourselves About Rebellion

  1. For when it changed, I’d say Sep 12th, 2001. It seems the US was willing to do anything, even become a country of ‘good germans’, to prevent a repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this is probably pretty right on. I remember being in New York and, right up until the attack, the Voice was doing this weeks-long expose on NYPD corruption that was getting wilder and wilder with each report. And Giuliani was being openly mocked in the tabloids for his own shit. And then, just like that, both were off-limits for the foreseeable future.


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