There was this dude named Osama bin Laden who got capped the other day. I don’t know, maybe you heard about it; it was sort of a big deal. Everyone in The News is talking about it – writers, anchors, bloggers, and all your social media buddies. But despite the event’s big-dealie-ness, there’s only so many ways to reword the phrase “Bad Guy Got Capped.” And in order to provide footing for those trekking warily through the Inundated Mediascape, we’ve run the most common Osama Death related clichés through the Beast’s Patented Hacknometer (patent pending).
THE ERA EPITAPH
The death of bin Laden is typically treated like a function – a play in three convenient acts: Sept. 11, 2001 > Patriot Act America > Osama Gets Capped. Though there might be some relevance to this narrative, it dangerously shifts discourse away from the decades and decades of Cause and Effect that precipitated in our current State of Terror.
What the commentator is trying to say: The death of Osama bin Laden changes things.
What the commentator is actually saying: I want to take credit for summarily defining an issue so hopelessly convoluted and complex that no one could actually ever wrap their head all the way around it.
Example: “For many young adults living in Western New York, their understanding of the modern world is now bookended by the 9/11 attacks and this week’s killing of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden” – Mark Popiolkowski, The Buffalo News
Hacknometer reading: “Too Easy”
THE “9/11 AFFECTED ME PERSONALLY” SPIEL
We were all there. Some planes hit buildings and you got to watch TV all day instead of working or schooling or beating your wife. You were sad or confused or angry. We were all there. And yeah, if you lost a family member on 9/11, that’s one thing, but for everyone else, it was the same generic sadness and confusion and anger. So now that a handful of voices are dredging their memory to meet their Word Counts, let’s just change the channel.
What the commentator is trying to say: I have something edifying to say about this.
What the commentator is actually saying: I don’t have anything edifying to say about this.
Example: “Over nine and a half years later and a continent away, [my son] raced downstairs from his bedroom to watch Obama’s speech ‘so psyched’ that he couldn’t go to sleep until we processed the implications of the killing of a man who defined our family’s life in ways he still cannot begin to imagine. A few tears dripped from my eyes as I recalled the sadness that enveloped the lives of all New Yorkers in the days and weeks after the attacks.” – Mark LeVine, Al Jazeera
Hacknometer reading: “Boring!”
THE TRUTHER TURN
Obama, what the fuck were you thinking dumping bin Laden’s body in the ocean and refusing to release pictures? After the National Socialists destroyed all the evidence of Hitler’s death, there were decades and decades of crackpot theories arguing that the dictator had simply sailed off to South America to… relax quietly and not accomplish anything? Obviously, you’re going to have doubters suggesting that all this Capping business is a rouse; that bin Laden is still caving it up somewhere in south-central Asia.
Eh, whatever. Obviously, the President isn’t about to go running his mouth about offing the nation’s Most Wanted Man unless he was absolutely confident that we wouldn’t be hearing from the goon ever again. You know? Get some sleep.
What the commentator is trying to say: I’m the only sane one!
What the commentator is actually saying: I’m batshit fucking insane!
Example: “Did Obama really kill Osama bin Laden? No (90%, 22,052 votes), Yes (10%, 2,479 votes)” – Poll on Alex Jones’ Infowars.com
Hacknometer reading: “Get Some Sleep.”
THE PACIFIST CITATION
After hearing that Terrorist Number One had been killed, my first inclination was to take shots with my American Homies. That’s not saying much, considering that I’d poured the shots before I even heard the news. But yeah, with news of Osama’s death came a brief, brief era of celebration for many. And this celebration, as usual, came with a backlash of castigation. You had a couple of people who got all “we shouldn’t revel in the death of an enemy” and forgot to remember our Greatest American Prerogative: any excuse to party is still an excuse to party.
What the commentator is trying to say: I’m better than you.
What the commentator is actually saying: I want to look like I’m better than you.
Example: “‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.’ – MLK jr” – Your most PC friend’s status on Facebook
Hacknometer reading: “Someone needs to get laid, know’m’sayin’, Dawg?”
THE MISC. NICHE
A Monday morning editorial meeting at one of the Big Outlets:
Managing Editor: Alright, this Osama thing is a big deal. How do we turn one story into ten?
Reporter 1: Perspective from 9/11 Families?
Reporter 2: Perspective from bin Laden’s Family?
Reporter 3: How are kids reacting?
Reporter 4: How are grandparents reacting?
Reporter 5: What does this mean for Obama’s poll numbers?
Reporter 6: What does this mean for the world of economics?
Reporter 7: What does this mean for the world of sports?
Reporter 8: What does this mean for the world of religion?
Reporter 9: Will Osama go to heaven?
Reporter 10: Will any of us go to heaven?
Managing Editor: …Gentlemen. We’ve got a long week ahead of us.
What the commentator is trying to say: I bet you never thought about it like that.
What the commentator is actually saying: …for good reason.
Example: Type “bin laden death” into Google and just skip ahead to page 10
Hacknometer reading: Journalism!