The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant would like to kindly request that the celebrities quit showing up at our parties. This week’s perp, Justin Bieber, crashed an L.A. prom and nearly got everyone trampled, including himself. Not to worry said his rep, “It’s unfortunate they’re trying to make this a negative thing. It was awesome for all the kids.” If the Biebs says it’s awesome, then it’s awesome; that tread mark on your forehead will wash right off. All hail the Biebs! The Biebs’ hubris would make Sophocles1 swoon; except in Justinius Rex, everyone else would gouge their eyes out.

In these instances The Rant is always reminded of the movie Soapdish, where Sally Field2 heads to the mall for some recognition when she’s feeling blue. You can fool everyone, even yourself celebs, but The Rant is on to you. The prom dates, the wedding appearances, the impromptu meet-and-greets: there’s no magnanimity there, just the ferocious neediness that must be fed at all hours of the day. We’d suggest you look in the mirror and take stock, but you’d just take a selfie and post it to Instagram with emojis and exclamation points. Bless your hearts.

To the rantin’: While we are on the subject of Illusory Gestures, could we please stop pretending that lining up veterans before a sporting event in front of ever-larger flags in any way alleviates our criminal treatment of military personnel? Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide, and 30% of all veterans admit having suicidal thoughts at some point. The horrific conditions of the VA hospital system have been well-documented, and many highly trained soldiers cannot find civilian jobs because states will not certify them based on their military experience.

The Rant worked near an enormous Army base once, and we were shocked by the number of families needing food stamps to help cover basic nutrition. Feeding America discovered 25% of all military families seek food assistance of some sort each year.

A priest that had a parish near the base said an endless stream of soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan arrived at his door each night, unable to sleep and untreated for PTSD and other mental issues because of the overloaded system. All he could offer them was coffee, cigarettes, and a sympathetic ear.

Apparently we believe throwing out the first pitch or having a jersey autographed magically makes these problems disappear. The Rant has come to the realization that the point of the Illusory Gesture is not to diminish the suffering of others but to lessen our own sense of responsibility so we sleep easy at night. We now live in a culture that equates an Illusory Gesture going viral with the eradication of social ills.

The Rant suspects that if the vast hordes of millionaires in industry, Congress3, and the executive branch had to start offering up their children for enlisted military service, the level of care and concern would suddenly skyrocket. Maybe then, after the pre-game festivities, the family of a veteran could afford a dog and peanuts at the game.

  1. Sophocles was a ancient Greek playwright that makes Arthur Miller sound like one of the Marx brothers
  2. Sally is a comedic genius and national treasure. Her performance in Soapdish is criminally underrated
  3. 268 of the 534 members of Congress have a net worth of $1 million or more. So the next time they claim to be just like you, you have permission to throw up on their very expensive suits

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