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Catastrophe Capitalists - How Far Will Folks Go To Share The Victim Spotlight?
by Larry Cox
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As unspeakable tragedy strikes our nation once again, so manifests the onslaught of addle-brained goofballs who scramble for airtime, and publicity, in order to further their own agendas and visibility. Join me on a tour as I examine these sanctimonious charlatans that I like to label as Catastrophe Capitalists.

The Virginia Tech Massacre was indeed one of our most horrific events in modern times. Before I begin my article, I want to say that my heart and prayers go out to everyone who was personally touched by this heart-wrenching disaster.

Those of you who are familiar with my writing style know that I take an in-your-face, no-holds-barred, look at topics that infuriate most of us. And I CAN say “most of us,” due the large amount positive feedback and e-mails that I receive from readers, as opposed to the trifling amount of unintelligent counterclaims that I collect from whiners who live in fantasyland. However, for those readers who may not yet have acquired an addiction to my brutal honesty, please do not misunderstand this article as any type of slight towards the tragedy that I am using to make my point. It is those who desecrate such misfortune as the Virginia Tech shooting, for their own design, that I direct my views towards.

I despise when tragic media events bring all of the opportunists out of the woodwork. You know the type I’m speaking of — the folks who capitalize on the tragedy in order to enhance their publicity, and garner a few bucks as well. This group ranges from so-called “expert” talking heads on the cable news channels, to uninformed citizens, to celebrities. Let’s take a look shall we?

The Tribute Song

Tribute songs — there is at least one for every disaster. Let’s start with the latest celebrity to take advantage of such a situation — R. Kelly. Kelly is now making headlines with his latest tribute song “Rise Up,” which he says was written to foster healing in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings. Uhmm . . . yea, right, we’ll come back to this in a minute.

Now, I have to admit that I did like Kelly’s 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly.” It was a beautiful melody — pretty enough to carry even its weak, hokey lyrics. However, his remaining cadre of songs that he has recorded is only fit for urban malcontents and their rich suburbanite poser counterparts.

Take a gander at Kelly’s usual creative staple of meaningful lyrical mastery, titles such as: “Bump N’ Grind,” Feelin’ On Yo Booty,” “Sex In The Kitchen,” “Chocolate Factory,” “Pussy,” “Like A Real Freak,” “Ghetto Queen,” “Sex Weed,” “Feelin’ You In Stereo,” “Hump Bounce,” “I Like The Crotch On You,” and “Kickin’ It With Your Girlfriend.” The list goes on and on — countless renditions sure to make Mom and Al Sharpton proud. Google the lyrics for yourself — I mean, really take some time to read the lyrics to his music. Simply go to Google and type in “R. Kelly Lyrics,” and check it out.

Now, let’s get back to “Rise Up.” Kelly says he wrote this inspirational ballad [his words, not mine] to express “hope and encouragement during this difficult time.” Give me a break. Here’s exactly what’s going on. R. Kelly needs to tidy up his image as he gets ready for round-two court proceedings related to his charges of sex and pornography with a minor.

Let’s take a brief look at his profound chorus to this ”tribute” song:

     Rise up when you feel you can’t go on.
     Rise up, and all of your hope is gone.
     Rise up, when you’re weak and can’t be strong.
     Rise up.

Wow, now isn’t that the most inspirational thing you ever read? I can just feel hope and encouragement being fostered within me. Those lyrics could be about a mountain biker who is struggling to finish the last leg of a race. I can certainly understand how someone who lost a loved one could be comforted by this pedophile, with prior hits such as “I Like The Crotch On You,” who writes such deep and meaningful lyrics as those to “Rise Up” — you feel me dogg?

Of course, I have a sneaking suspicion that the producers probably had to edit the original lyrics down a bit, in order to accomplish the goal of capturing our nation’s easily-manipulated, and gullible, hearts. In light of what I read researching Kelly’s prior lyrical incantations, I’m thinking that what Kelly probably originally had in mind just wouldn’t have had the same impact. See if you agree:
     Yo, rise up ma bitches when you be givin’ up.
     Rise up when yo hope be gone.
     Rise up when yo sorry ass be spent.
     Yo, Rise up y’all!

I do almost applaud that “100% of the net proceeds will go to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund,” according to Jive Records (the fund was established by Virginia Tech to provide assistance to families of the victims of the shootings). “Net proceeds” — I always love that one. I’d be interested in seeing what the “net proceeds” end up being, as apposed to what Jive and R. Kelly end up pocketing. I mean, after all, Kelly still faces more than half of his original twenty-one charges stemming from his numerous videotaped sexual encounters with a 14-year-old girl. That could land him in prison for up to fifteen years, sharing a cell with Bubba — giving a whole new meaning to the term “Rise Up.” So, the reality is that if R. Kelly is in prison picking up the soap on a daily basis, he doesn’t make millions of dollars for Jive Records. That’s a lot of motivation to boost his image with future jury members, and to generate proceeds of their own toward the upcoming legal fees — fo’ shizzle!

So, look at the big picture, and then you tell me that Kelly and Jive Records aren’t capitalizing on the Virginia Tech shooting for their own agenda. It’s a dishonor to every Virginia Tech victim and a slap in the face to their family members. And shame on those of you who are still naïve enough to say, “But, Kelly and Jive Records are doing this to raise money for the victims and their families,” and actually believe it. However, if you are still thinking, “Larry just doesn’t like hip-hop and doesn’t have any idea what he is talking about, because R. Kelly has a good heart and I think what he is doing is really sweet,” then maybe I could interest you in a peanut brittle distributorship for denture wearers.

Such tragedy also brings every second-guessing, naysaying, Monday-morning-quarterbacking son-of-bitch to the airwaves and newspapers. These are the other folks trying to capitalize on the “publicity factor” during the window of opportunity following an event such as the Virginia Tech Massacre. For two weeks our television screens become a central gathering point of, I-knew-this-was-going-to-happen, self-proclaimed gurus of delusional hindsight, or as I like to call them, fucking idiots. These boneheads fall into one of three categories — boneheads who either “knew it was going to happen,” “could have prevented it from happening,” or “have all the answers for preventing it from happening again.” It would be a full-blown comedy show if it wasn’t so infuriating. I never know whether to laugh, or toss a live grenade under the television and run out for a Whopper Junior.

Anyway, I could never possibly cover all of the knuckleheads in question, and all of their useless rhetoric. However, there are a couple of popular scenarios from the above-listed categories that many of these dumb-asses like to speculate on, very much like the proverbial lemmings following each other off the cliff. I would like to address a few.

We Knew This Was Going To Happen

I can’t tell you how many professors, ex-teachers, classmates, and acquaintances that I have read about and seen on the news that just “knew that Cho Seung-Hui was going to do this some day.” This type of idiot crawls out from closet every time someone commits a heinous act. I always wonder how they react when they hear one of their fellow clairvoyant nimrods touting how they “predicted that one.” Man, if I had a dollar for every time some form of this statement came out of their mouths: “Really? Me too! That’s exactly what I thought! I knew this was going to happen!” The bottom line is that each and every one of us knows at least one person that makes the hairs on the back of our neck stand up, and is a potential mass murderer. That my friends is a LOT of potential Freddy Kruegers. However, it is certainly no predictor of tragedy to come, and it is certainly no cause to say, “I knew this would happen,” should such a person blow up a restaurant.

Anyway, there were countless whack-jobs sharing their theories with us. The one that stands out the most to me is Lucinda Roy. Now here is a dork of massive proportions. She is the former chairwoman of Virginia Tech’s English Department. A year and a half before the shootings, Roy had been concerned about Cho’s anger from reading material he had written in his creative writing class. She said he never wrote about guns or killing people, but that his writing was disturbing enough that she went to police and university officials. Neither the police, nor university officials agreed with her. Imagine her surprise. After being rebuffed by authorities, Roy said that “The threats seemed to be underneath the surface . . . they were not explicit, and that was the difficulty the police had.” Yeah no shit Lucinda.

There was also this classmate dweeb of Cho’s, named Ian MacFarlane, who said that two plays that Cho wrote were “very graphic” and “extremely disturbing.” MacFarlane stated, “It was like something out of a nightmare. The plays had really twisted, macabre violence . . .”  Now there’s a sure fire recipe for a tower sniper — thanks for the head’s up Ian. Hmmmm . . . according to Ms. Roy and Ian MacFarlane I guess we should lock up Quentin Tarantino, Clive Barker, John Carpenter, Sean S. Cunningham, and countless other writers, and throw away the key then huh? I’m thinking that maybe Ian’s parents might have been better served had they set his college tuition money on fire.

So, back to Ms. Roy. Here was a woman who was so uncomfortable and concerned about allowing Cho to remain in the classroom with other students that guess what she did? Yep, she decided to instruct him one-on-one, away from other students and teachers. Folks I’m still laughing and I read about that almost two weeks ago. Hmmm, no wonder she is the “former” chairperson. Anyone that stupid doesn’t deserve to be teaching, let alone be a chairperson over other teachers. I’m thinking that Ms. Roy may have a few issues of her own.

We Could Have Prevented This From Happening

Okay, so two people were killed at a campus dormitory two hours prior to the Norris Hall massacre, which had hindsighters criticizing university officials as to why the Virginia Tech campus was not locked down. Really now, is that what we do, or should do, every time a person is killed? All of these pea-brain hindsight critics crack me up. Come on people, take a reality pill. Nobody could have predicted a second shooting was going to take place two hours later at Norris Hall. You know what would be good for that don’t you? Yep, crystal balls. We post someone who specializes in crystal ball reading at every business and school in the country — problem solved. In the meantime let’s see what you armchair quarterbacks will be whining about when there is a murder six houses down from yours, and they “lock down” your entire neighborhood for ten hours on the off chance that the suspect might come back to finish off the rest of the neighbors, and you can’t get home to watch American Idol and gorge your fat ass with cheese puffs.

We Can Prevent This From Happening Again

No you can’t. I’m not even going to waste my readers’ time going off with examples on this one. Since Adam and Eve (oh, sorry . . . pollywogs for those of you who will grumble if I don’t mention you) man has committed one atrocity after another against his fellow man. And you present-day “experts” are going to prevent this from happening in the future, because you are such intelligent after-the-fact problem-solvers? Whatever you say. But I’ll tell you what, if you can come up with a solution to preventing such inhumanity in the future, I’ll bet you our lives that someone will find fault with that, especially if  they can get forty-five seconds on CNN, or their name in the newspaper.

© Copyright 2007 Larry Cox  All Rights Reserved



Do you agree that folks capitalize on human tragedy in order to grab the spotlight?

A. Yes, and I agree with you100%!
B. Yes, and I’d lend you a grenade, but I used all of mine watching the Anna Nicole aftermath.
C. No, I think most folks are sincere. Oh, and I like lemmings . . . and Nancy Grace.
D. Not really. By the way, how do I become an analyst on CNN?
E. Yes, but I’m not sure about R. Kelly’s true motives. However, my 13 year old daughter is looking for a chocolate pimp daddy.
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